Monday, February 12, 2018

Air Freight Carrier Copes with Valentine's Day Cargo Shipping Variations

US Airline Shifts Flowers by the Tonne
Shipping News Feature
US – WORLDWIDE – One of the perennial problems which faces the shipping industry is the seasonal and ever elastic shifting of high and low busy periods caused by holidays and the like. Some, for example the fast approaching Chinese New Year, mean a rush to meet closing deadlines, followed by a period of complete inactivity lasting for weeks. Others are simply a one day event, but these can mean a sudden upsurge of particular specialist freight movements, and the effect on companies such as American Airlines Cargo in a week which includes St. Valentine's Day can only be imagined.

The air freight commodities concerned for such a specialist celebration are of course similar year on year. In this case chocolates and other small gifts form a part of the rush, but the really big items are naturally plants and flowers. Throughout 2017 AA Cargo shipped around 25 tonnes of flowers per day with early February the stand out time due to the event. Considering a typical flower weighs less than 10 grams, that’s a mind-boggling amount of blossoming cargo.

Valentine’s Day flowers come from countries all across the world with the most popular being carnations, mini-carnations, roses and tropical flowers, like calla lilies, emanating particularly from locations such as Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia, where warm weather creates an ideal year-round growing season. Almost half of last year’s total, around 4.5 million tonnes, of AA Cargo’s flowers came from Amsterdam into the US and that number is only expected to grow in 2018 now that the airline has implemented a new direct seasonal service from Schiphol to Dallas-Fort Worth providing additional support for the (literally and figuratively) growing flower business.

In June 2017, the airline added a new option for a protective shield for flower shipments that helps them maintain the highest possible quality throughout the journey. No matter where they are sent, flower shipments are always boarded with a high priority to avoid delays and exposure to any harsh temperatures. Although the US trade remains its mainstay, AA Cargo has seen an increased demand for flowers across the rest of its network, from places in Central America to China, Japan and the UK, and then from Europe to North America. David Vance, American’s vice president of Cargo Operations, said:

“Transporting delicate, fresh-cut flowers across the globe certainly requires a lot of attention and care. 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. But this extra care is worthwhile, that’s how we make it possible for people around the world to send and receive things, like delicate chocolates and fresh roses, as if they were made, or picked, that same day.”