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Romance buoys air cargo industry

By Staff Reports on February 14, 2014

It turns out that romance benefits the airfreight industry.

AirBridgeCargo Airlines saw a large rise in flower imports ahead of Valentine’s Day.

In the lead up to Feb. 14, ABC transported 1,400 tonnes of flowers from Amsterdam to Moscow, an 18 percent increase over the same period in 2013.

“The demand for flowers in Russia is buoyant,” Denis Ilin, executive president of ABC, said. “The market is worth over US$1 billion a year and over 75 percent of flowers are imported, with Amsterdam being sort of pooling point for flowers coming from different parts of the world. That makes our scheduled B747 freighter services linking Amsterdam and Russian largest cities the first choice for flower importers that need a fast and reliable delivery service to ensure the freshness of their products.”

Air France-KLM-Martinair flew more than 800 tonnes of flowers originating from Kenya and Andean countries to Europe from Jan. 30 to Feb. 9. This was in addition to the regular flower transport.

The carrier added full charter flights, and the largest part of this additional capacity was aimed primarily at supplying the British, Dutch and Russian markets with flowers.

One full charter operated between Nairobi and Amsterdam on behalf of the Dutch Flower Group (DFG) companies. DFG is a family of more than 30 trading companies specializing in flowers and plants.

Marco van Zijverden, CEO of DFG, and Eelco van Asch, senior vice president Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo, met to sign the ongoing cooperation between the two companies.

But Valentine’s Day wasn’t so lighthearted for FlowerDeliveryExpress.com, who recently conducted the first flower delivery by drone. In response to the Federal Aviation Administration, who informed the company that commercial use is only authorized on a case-by-case basis, FlowerDeliveryExpress.com CEO Wesley Berry was forced to halt future testing with drones.  

FlowerDeliveryExpress.com, an online floral delivery operation, had intended to deliver as many free rose bouquets as possible to its beta test group on Valentine's Day. 

"Unfortunately, we can no longer conduct testing of delivering flowers by drone," Berry said. "However, the good news is that this technology is here to stay. When the time is right, we'll be ready for orders to be delivered, not by an address, but by GPS coordinates. It's exciting to plan the future of the business based on this emerging technology."

FlowerDeliveryExpress.com has launched a consumer beta program to test alternative delivery methods and other development efforts with a select group of customers before going to market.