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Freighters filling up with flowers

By control on February 11, 2013

Air shipment of flowers is taking on added importance this week as airlines are filling up freighters with colorful cargo.

Lufthansa Cargo is flying millions of red roses on fully-laden freighters to Europe in time for bumper sales at high-street florists on Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14. All told in the next few days, the cargo carrier will be shipping to Frankfurt around 1000 tonnes of lovers’ tokens from Africa and South America.

The major countries exporting roses are Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador. Lufthansa Cargo serves all three of the exporting nations with several freighter services weekly from its Frankfurt hub. For Valentine’s Day, normal frequencies on the route will be upped by several extra flights in order to accommodate huge demand.

Flowers need to be transported fast and with extra care. Lufthansa Cargo has developed a special product, Fresh/td, for the transport of perishable goods with an own competence team taking care of the sensitive shipments.

The airline’s sophisticated logistics with cooling systems in the cargo hold and the expertise of the growers in the exporting countries, ensure that the roses arrive fresh and crispy at their destination.

Immediately after they are harvested by the growers, the flowers are dispatched on the fastest route to be packaged and loaded straight into the holds of the cargo airline’s freighters. Their transport to onward destinations across Europe is coordinated at the hub of Lufthansa Cargo in Frankfurt.

Aside from Nairobi and Bogota, a notable share of the total of rose shipments reaches Frankfurt from Ecuador’s capital Quito, known as the City of Eternal Spring. The constantly mild climate furnishes overseas rose producers with ideal conditions for cultivating flowers, which are in bloom throughout the year so that buyers in Europe can be sure of fresh supplies in any season.

Although they are transported by air, imported flowers are more environment-friendly than those cultivated in Europe, since the latter, according to a study from Britain’s Cranfield University, require artificial irrigation and heated greenhouses, which generate more carbon emissions.

Saudia Cargo is operating a series of four extra freighter flights from Nairobi to Amsterdam in order to meet extra demand for flower shipments. The extra flights will be operated with a mix of MD11 and B747F and will be in addition to the existing five weekly scheduled freighter flights on this sector, providing a total capacity of 1,000 tonnes for flowers into the European market during this particular peak window.

“Kenya is the number one airfreight export country in Africa,” said Ken Mbogo, regional sales director, Africa. “Saudia Cargo is a well-established and leading carrier in this market. The deployment of these additional flights to meet the increased demand, for a third consecutive year, shows our strong commitment to the Kenyan floricultural industry. We will continue to strengthen our support to the industry in the long term.”

Saudia Cargo operates scheduled freighter services with 13 freighters and sells the belly-capacity on 145 passenger aircraft for Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier Saudia, spanning a rapidly expanding global network of 225 destinations. The cargo airline also provides worldwide charter flights from a growing fleet of dedicated charter aircraft.

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