With less than 24 hours to go before the big Valentine’s Day holiday, more carriers are reporting in with data about increased charter flights packed with fresh-cut flowers that mostly likely traveled thousands of miles to make it to neighborhood grocery stores in the United States, Europe and Asia.
International carriers and forwarders are heaving a collective sigh of relief as they wrap up the pre-Valentine’s Day period, in which demand for capacity on routes out of major flower exporting regions in Latin America and East Africa spikes for about two weeks before settling back to normal levels.
Chile-based LATAM Cargo said it moved 9,000 tonnes of flowers on 140 flights during the surge – which was about on par with volumes during the seasonal period that it has experienced in 2017 and 2018. To accommodate the extra demand for capacity, the carrier increased frequencies out of Colombia and Ecuador from 12 to 23 flights and from 10 to 31 flights, respectively, during its “busiest week” between Jan. 14 and Feb. 8. The carrier operates at Medellin (MDE) and Bogotá (BOG) in Colombia, and Quito (UIO) in Ecuador.
While the U.S. received the majority of the volume moved by LATAM Cargo via Miami International Airport (MIA), smaller fractions of the flowers carried were received by other international markets, e.g. the Netherlands, China, France, Spain and New Zealand.
Across the pond, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP) also adjusted its regular flight schedule to accommodate the surge. For the first time, the carrier group rerouted four Air France 777 freighter flights from Nairobi (NBO) to Paris (CDG) via Amsterdam (AMS) to address European demand for flowers.
AFKLMP transported about 3,300 tonnes from Nairobi, Quito and Bogotá over a two-week period in late January and early February – a 10 percent bump in volume, compared to the same period in 2018. While most of the blooms carried by the carrier were bound for European destinations, it also noted the Japanese market was a significant recipient.
Panalpina also got in on the action – chartering a 777 freighter from NBO to Sydney (SYD), which delivered 1.6 million fresh roses to Australia. The forwarder invested in the East African hub back in November, when it expanded its cold-chain facilities at NBO.