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Air France-KLM transports 1,400 tonnes of wine

By control on November 22, 2011

Every third Thursday of November, people around the world celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day, marking the release of the purple-pink wine cultivated in France’s Beaujolais region. Seeing who can get the bottles to market the fastest is another popular tradition, one that Air France-KLM helped execute this year.

Air France Cargo-KLM Cargo’s Jean-Claude Raynaud told Air Cargo World that Japan demanded the majority of the wine — 73 percent. The rest of Asia and North America tied for second place in regards to wine consumption, with 11 percent of the bottles bound for each region, respectively.

What’s more, Raynaud said, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport handled 69 percent of the 1,400 tonnes of Beaujolais Nouveau transported, followed by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at 31 percent. Fortunately, he told Air Cargo World, the often unique requirements of wine didn’t disrupt flight operations at all.

“This wine does not demand any particular transportation conditions,” he said. “It was carried at ambient temperature on aircraft pallets or containers on board the palletized belly-holds of our passenger aircraft and freighters.”

Shipping the Beaujolais Nouveau by air does provide key benefits over other modes of transportation, Raynaud explained. “Being a sort of ‘time-definite’ product — with respect to the third Thursday of November deadline, and because the date of liberation is close to the first drinking day — for very far destinations, such as Asia, South America and Africa, air transportation is [preferable],” Raynaud said.

That’s not the case with North America, however. “A few years ago, the liberation date was significantly advanced, which makes sea transportation very competitive in terms of time of transportation,” Raynaud told Air Cargo World. After all, he revealed, it only takes five to six days to ship wine from Le Havre, France, to the New York harbor.

As a result, Air France-KLM has carried decreased volumes of Beaujolais Nouveau to this region, he explained. But the European carrier has been able to compensate for this loss by focusing on other regions of growth, such as Asia.

Raynaud expects Air France-KLM to remain a major player in the transportation of this wine. Touting the carrier’s “consistent logistical approach” to shipping Beaujolais Nouveau, he told Air Cargo World that getting the wine to market by its deadline date will remain Air France-KLM’s top priority.

“[Beaujolais Nouveau Day] is a recurrent event, year after year, in terms of transportation,” he said, “and we have always been present to handle it.”