London-based IAG Cargo says it has transported more than 500 tonnes of flowers around the world in the run-up to Valentine’s Day and, as part of a mission critical, it has transported eight tonnes of champagne from London to Maldives. Measured by weight, the amount of flowers transported by IAG Cargo increased by 23% compared to last year.

Valentine’s Day is a busy time for the air cargo industry

Most global freight does not travel by air. About 90% of the freight transported worldwide is by sea. But air freight has a competitive edge when it comes to perishable and time-sensitive freight. IAG Cargo and its freight forwarders worked to get flowers from farms to customer shelves within 72 hours of cutting, at temperatures between 0 and 8°C.

The most requested flowers were tulips, roses, carnations and chrysanthemums with key countries of origin including Kenya, India, South Africa, Holland, Colombia and Ecuador. The flowers would travel directly to major US and Canadian markets or, in some cases, transit through IAG’s hubs in London and Madrid.

“It’s a busy time of year for flower farms, floral retailers and distributors who are all working hard to ensure that consumers around the world can cherish their loved ones this year,” said Freddie Overton, Regional Sales Manager for Europe and Africa at IAG Cargo.

“We are excited to be part of the process, with our global network ready and able to take flowers from around the world. We have some of the best floral facilities in the world to help bring Valentine’s Day flowers to market, as fresh as the day they were cut.”


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IAG Cargo transported more than 500 tons of flowers in the run-up to Valentine’s Day. Photo: IAG Cargo

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Qatar Airways flies more than 60 million roses this year

Valentine’s Day is the peak day of the year for florists and demand from flower growers is intense. Airlines with large cargo operations are big beneficiaries, but transporting fragile cargo like flowers requires a high degree of planning and coordination. Qatar Airways is one of the largest air cargo operators in the world and says planning starts months in advance.

The continued impact of COVID-19 on available capacity and resources has also added complexity to the mix. However, this year Qatar Airways flew 60 million roses from the major flower producing countries of Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador. Qatar sends the flowers to Liège in Belgium. From there, the flowers go by road to Amsterdam, the flower hub of Europe.


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Qatar Airways also did good business this year sending flowers to Europe. Photo: Qatar Airways

Sophisticated facilities to keep flowers fresh

IAG Cargo can rely on the resources of the five airlines of the IAG group and has access to more than 500 aircraft. These planes perform some 15,000 flights per week to more than 350 destinations. IAG Cargo is one of the largest air cargo operators in the world.

Once on the plane, IAG Cargo uses cooling technology that maintains the quality of the most sensitive flowers. They also offer customers the ability to track temperature, humidity, and humidity levels during shipping. In Kenya alone, IAG Cargo transports over 7,500 tons of perishable goods every year.

It is not known exactly where the eight tons of champagne went to the Maldives. But the country is full of high-end resorts. If you’ve gone to the trouble (and expense) of taking your significant other to the Maldives for Valentine’s Day, there’s little point in skimping on the champagne.


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