American Airlines Cargo is transporting hundreds of tonnes of fresh flowers this Valentine’s season, marking the first of several peaks the carrier will see throughout the year. While many companies gear up for the Valentine’s Day rush, the American Airlines Cargo team is prepared year-round for this vertical market and consistent business.
For more than 30 years, American Airlines Cargo teams in the Americas and Europe have consistently transported a wide range of fresh flowers, including roses, tulips, carnations, lilies, peonies, and baby’s breath, to help celebrate a wide variety of special days.
Valentine’s Day is the first holiday each year where the carrier sees flower demand increase, but there are several other celebrations, including Emperor’s Birthday in Japan, Easter, Mother’s Day in the U.S. and Europe, All Saints Day, U.S. Thanksgiving and Christmas where volumes peak in multiple locations across American’s cargo network.
This year out of Europe, American will fly 50% more flowers than in 2022, or more than 417 tonnes, for the Valentine’s Day peak. Using its trucking network and widebody aircraft, the airline is transporting Dutch tulips and roses to the U.S. and beyond by way of London Heathrow (LHR) and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
“It’s always exciting to see flowers move across our network this time of year. Our teams are passionate about the careful handling of these shipments, knowing we play an important role for our customers and ultimately the people around the world who will celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers we carry,” says Emma Oliver, American Airlines Cargo Sales Director for EMEA & APAC.
Roses and carnations have always been a strong export from Ecuador and Colombia, with a rich history dating for more than three decades. These flowers travel through the carrier’s Miami International Airport (MIA) hub throughout the year before continuing domestically or on American’s transatlantic network to European destinations. More than 70% of the fresh flowers that American carries from Ecuador and Colombia are roses, and for Valentine’s Day, that number increases to 90%.
“Flowers are a precious cargo. They need to arrive in perfect condition to delight our customers, and our dedicated teams recognize the importance of care, packaging, and handling to ensure they look as beautiful when they arrive at a destination as when they left the farm,” says Lorena Sandoval, American Airlines Cargo Sales Director – Florida, Caribbean, and Latin America.
While some of the flowers are year-round, like roses, other flowers, such as tulips, daffodils, and poinsettias, are highly seasonal-specific. Spring months see significant volumes of tulips and daffodils out of Europe to the U.S. and Asia, while the end-of-year Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays come with a high demand for poinsettias out of Mexico and Chile.
No matter the season, celebration, or type of bloom, American’s cargo team is at work, moving fresh flowers wherever they need to go. The carrier also has an expansive cold-chain network, with many of its major stations equipped with cooler spaces for use based on availability to help keep flowers fresh on their journey across the globe.