It was an unusual transport, based on pure love. Bride Grace Wang’s greatest wish to her future husband Johnny Liú was a big olive tree as a wedding present to be planted in their garden near Xiashan, in southern China. And the groom has done everything to fulfill his future wife’s wish.
Manager Oliver Krautter of Quick Cargo Service in Stuttgart, Germany had to read the email twice before he believed the message received from his company’s Chinese partner agency: “Urgent
assistance needed. Arrange the transport of a living olive tree aged 30 to 40 years from plantations in southern Europe to Hong Kong by air. Upon arrival, we care about customs clearance, all
formalities and the onward journey of the tree to its final destination.”
Quite an order for Krautter and his QCS team.
Saragossa to Stuttgart…
After sorting his thoughts, he began to track down a plantation that breeds olive trees, which he found near Saragossa, Spain, following dozens of fruitless telephone calls. Photos of a variety of trees were sent that fitted the order, with him and his team sealing the deal after they had selected one.
Next, the tree was dug out very carefully and it was loaded by crane on a semitrailer. A delicate job “because the roots and branches had to be protected from being damaged,” he recalls.
At the end, all worked well with the tree arriving in Stuttgart.
… on to Frankfurt, Hong Kong…
In Stuttgart, “we had already built a wooden box in advance with a kind of sponge on the floor to maintain the moisture throughout the journey,” recalls Mr Krautter. Once packed in the box, the tree was supported with three struts for securing it standing upright at all times during transportation. He points out that the special soil had to be absolutely germ-free, not containing any seeds or worms. This the supplier could document through a certificate of purity and cleanness. Otherwise, the Hong Kong authorities would have confiscated the tree right after landing.
… and to Xiashan
Once this job was accomplished, the foil-wrapped olive, weighing 2,853 kilograms including soil and packaging, was trucked to Frankfurt and loaded on board a Boeing 747F of Azeri carrier Silkway West Airlines and arrived in Hong Kong the following day after a stopover at their main hub in Baku.
The rest was routine. After customs clearance and the loading of the tree on board a semitrailer, it was trucked to its final destination Xiashan. There, Grace and Johnny, meanwhile married, planted the Spanish olive tree, assisted by professional gardeners, in front of their home.
Flying trees is good business
As it looks, the tree has weathered the demanding trip from Spain to China well, because not a single leaf has yet fallen from the twigs, Johnny Liú confirmed to Robert Jiuh of Quick Cargo’s Chinese partner agency.
Although the olive tree project was a very special challenge, flying trees is nothing new to QCS. “I have organized many transports of Christmas trees from Germany to Dubai,” recalls QCS founder Dieter Haltmayer. There is a large community of Europeans in the UAE that do not want to miss out on a “Tannenbaum” over the Christmas days.
“It’s good business, comforting the consignees and satisfying their emotions,” Quick Cargo’s doyen concludes.