The one-two punch of Valentine’s Day on Wednesday and the run-up to the Chinese Lunar New Year in Friday are expected to create huge demand for air cargo this week, according to carrier estimates. This shipping of perishable flowers, plants, chocolates and gifts all around the globe could reach record levels for some carriers.
UPS said it expects to transport more than 8 million pounds of flowers – and a total of 88 million blossoms – to destinations in the United States, which the integrator said was equivalent to 64 filled 767 aircraft.
Frank Diaz, the global marketing manager for the UPS Americas region, said the carrier has expanded its temperature-controlled floral operations in recent days “to move more than 514,000 boxes of flowers. We take helping love bloom seriously.”
The latest figures from the National Retail Federation estimated that American consumers will spend an estimated US$19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts, which is an increase from $18.2 billion in 2017, on gifts for Valentine’s Day. More than 10 percent for the total, or $2 billion, will be in the form of flowers.
Meanwhile, American Airlines Cargo, which shipped more than 18 million pounds of flowers alone in 2017, or about 25 tons per day, on average, said it expects to see an increase in 2018, especially for the most popular flowers: carnations, mini-carnations, roses and tropical flowers. Most Valentine’s Day flowers, the carrier added, come from Latin American countries, such as Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia.
Last year, AA Cargo said it also shipped more than 10 million pounds of flowers out of Amsterdam (AMS) into the United States. Since the carrier launched its direct seasonal service from Amsterdam (AMS) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), the route has providing additional support for the heavy spring flower demand the capital of Europe’s flower trade.
“We have to constantly monitor minimum and maximum temperature exposure throughout the entire routing process, and we have to meet very specific requirements to help ensure every flower’s freshness is properly preserved,” said David Vance, American’s vice president of cargo operations.
In June 2017, AA Cargo offered to ship flower with a “protective shield” to help maintain temperatures and prevent damage during shipment.