Despite cuts to scheduled main-deck capacity between Nairobi and Amsterdam, Air France-KLM-Martinair said it maintained its dominant position in the transport of fresh-cut flowers out of popular gateways like Nairobi, Quito and Bogota. For the past five weeks, weekly average volumes have hovered around 1,000 tonnes, down only slightly from an average of 1,150 tonnes per week in 2016.
Like clockwork, fresh flower shipments soar during the two-month period between February and March of each year, as heavy consumer demand in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day and International Woman’s Day requires airlift support. Carriers often up-guage or add additional freighter capacity to support demand, and Air France-KLM was no exception. Marcel de Nooijer, executive vice president of Air France KLM Martinair Cargo, said the group added an additional full-charter freight flight into Nairobi, and had up-guaged the airframe used on passenger routes to support the flower trade.
Amsterdam has long been a popular destination and trans-shipment center for fresh flowers, as the home to the world’s top fresh-cut flower auction house, Aalsmeer, which is just 10 kilometers from Amsterdam Schiphol. Last year, stakeholders in the flower business at Schiphol, including AF-KLM Cargo, launched the Holland Flower Alliance to strengthen and reinforce the “preferred flower hub” position.
AF-KLM cargo currently offers twice-weekly scheduled freighter flights between the following destinations: BOG-AMS, UIO-AMS, NBO-AMS and NBO-CDG. Additionally, belly capacity is available on 17 weekly widebody passenger flights to the three destinations.
Flower production remains highly concentrated, with only a few countries producing meaningful numbers of flowers for export. Ecuador’s Pichincha region and Kenya’s Lake Naivasha region are widely known as the top flower-producing regions, with flower exports from Ecuador and Kenya totaling US$360 million and US$600 million, respectively, in 2016.