That bunch of red roses that appears on your desk from an apparent ‘anonymous admirer’, those flowers you carefully select to take home to the special person at your side, the single-stemmed rose between the Flamenco dancer’s teeth at a romantic, candle-lit dinner later that evening… There is a good chance these flowers were among the 60 million roses flown out of Ecuador, Colombia and Kenya, on board of one of the many Qatar Airways Cargo special charters and flights networking the world in the run-up to this year’s Valentine’s Day.
You are always on my mind
Whereas the big day itself lasts just 24 hours, at Qatar Airways Cargo, customers and cargo teams begin preparing months in advance, “with the flower farms projecting more or less the tonnage that will move for the Valentine season,” Qatar Airways Cargo Vice President Cargo Americas Mr. Ian Morgan, explains. These forecasts determine whether additional flights are required to supplement the scheduled freighters during the peak flower transportation phase which begins around 17 January and runs to 7 February. Similar to 2021, the effects of the pandemic on available capacity and resources posed an additional challenge during planning.
Keeping the love alive
The main destinations out of Quito (UIO), Ecuador, and Bogotá (BOG), Colombia, are in the U.S., Europe, Russia and Australia. “This year, the Ecuadorian market had to deal with 24 per cent less capacity into Europe, and around 16 per cent less capacity into the U.S. market,” illustrates Ian, which led to three additional Quito-Miami (MIA) flights and four extra flights from Quito to Europe and onward to Doha, complementing the five regular weekly freighters out of Quito. Colombia has been well served with its two scheduled flights per week out of Bogotá. However, the planning does not stop there; intricate, temperature-controlled onforwarding is also set up to ensure that the flowers arrive fresh and on time at their end-destinations. “We use road feeder services from where the flights operate into Europe to Amsterdam (AMS), in the Netherlands, where the logistics are set-up for Russia and other Eastern European countries.”
Happy Anniversary, Darling!
“This is Qatar Airways Cargo’s second Valentine season operating out of Colombia and our sixth season out of Ecuador,” continues Ian. These respective countries are the second and third largest flower exporters in the world, after the Netherlands.
Qatar Airways Cargo has positioned itself during the pandemic as a critical supplier of capacity. The cargo carrier has further strengthened its position, and brought stability, as well as an ever-expanding global network, to its local market. “The relationship we have with our customers is never more evident, than during the Valentine period. The trust and support we have developed has ensured that there is, and always will be, a strong relationship in Ecuador and Columbia,” emphasises Ian. Over in Kenya, ranked fourth in global flower exports, Qatar Airways Cargo Regional Cargo Manager Africa, Mr. Nicolas Danton points out that the carrier has been involved in the transport of flowers from Nairobi (NBO) for more than 10 years and that the airline “will be largest cargo operator in NBO” in the run up to Valentine’s Day 2022.
Whatever you want, whatever you need
“Qatar Airways Cargo is always there to support the regular customers with extra capacity during the Valentine period,” continues Nicolas Danton. Transport starts in the last week of January through to around 9 February. Following careful handling before departure, they travel to Liège (LGG), Belgium, from where they are trucked to Amsterdam, the biggest market for flowers in Europe. “A lot of coordination is required to arrange the charters with the authorities, and to handle the extra volumes and flights during that period,” explains Nicolas, emphasising the close and constant customer contact to ensure proper shipment planning on the respective flight days. During the Valentine season, this translates into an additional 13 B777F charters alongside the usual scheduled freighter and passenger flights. “At Qatar Airways Cargo, our aim is to encourage our customer’s success. We are supportive of everything they do and always go the extra mile to assist where they need us the most,” concludes Nicolas.