Valentine’s Day surge in flower traffic smells sweet at LATAM Cargo [VIDEO]

With Valentine’s Day finally in the rear-view mirror, carriers like LATAM Cargo are savoring one of the mainstays of the Latin Americans airfreight business: the annual January surge in flower shipment.

This year, the Chile-based carrier handled more than 160 million bouquets of flowers (around 9,000 short tons) in the three weeks leading up to V-Day, representing 21 percent of the total Latin American flower market over this period. By those estimates, almost 43,000 tonnes of flowers were exported by all carriers from Latin American markets.

Between Jan. 16 and Feb. 7, more than 140 LATAM cargo flights departed from Ecuador and Colombia, tripling the average number of weekly air cargo shipments. Between Bogotá and Miami, where LATAM transports 360 tons per week, on average, this figure reached 900 tonnes per week leading up to Valentine’s Day. Likewise, between Quito and Miami, shipments increased from 450 to 1,500 short tons per week.

In a typical week, Miami International Airport (MIA) receives about 5,000 tonnes of flowers from Ecuador and Colombia, but in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, this weekly traffic almost triples, surpassing 14,000 tonnes.

LATAM Cargo flew all the flowers for this Valentine’s Day in dedicated cargo aircraft, which have the capacity to ship between 3,100 and 5,200 boxes – equivalent to more than 2 million flowers per shipment.

That said, the surge of freighter capacity out of Latin America for low-value agricultural exports is not being offset by more lucrative imports. As a result, the temporary surge in outbound freight is unlikely to meet the levels of profitability that carriers achieved prior to Brazil’s economic collapse, currency devaluation and subsequent loss of domestic buying power.

Below: LATAM Cargo flower export operations

Those interested in learning more about air freight in 2017, should join us at Cargo Facts Asia in Shanghai, 25 – 26 April.  To register, or for more information, go to

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