“When someone blushes, doesn’t that mean ‘yes’?” is a quote from Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince – a book all about the nature of true love. Valentine’s Day. Does it make you blush, do you roll your eyes at all the sentimentality, or does it mean an even heavier workload than usual in advance of the Big Day? Valentine’s Day would not be quite the same without air cargo.
“People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden... Yet, they don’t find what they’re looking for... And yet, what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose.”
That single rose has often come a very long way – for example from South America. “UPS expects to ship 89.1 million flowers for Valentine’s Day” is just one of a number of Valentine’s Day air cargo statistics published annually at this time of year. The run-up to the actual day is intense for everyone involved in air cargo logistics – not to mention the original shippers, without which this business would not exist. The company’s brief press release summarizes that the integrator “has added 63 additional flights for a total of 118, providing the necessary airlift for flowers traveling to the U.S. from South America,” pointing out that “90% of flower volume ships 2-3 days before Valentine’s Day,” and that, given their delicate nature requiring a temperature-controlled environment, “UPS has a cooler the size of five basketball courts in Miami, to keep each stem beautiful.”
Similarly, Avianca Cargo reported shifting over 16,000 tons of goods on 300 flights between 17JAN22 and 07FEB22, mainly flowers to the U.S. for Valentine’ Day, which brings in around 15% of its annual revenue.
Liege has that look of love
Not just integrators/airlines, but airports, too, are heavily involved in the Valentine peak season. Liege, Belgium, is a case in point as one of the main cargo hubs connecting Europe and Africa – Kenya, in particular, as the fourth largest flower exporter, worldwide. Liege waxes lyrical on its LinkedIn page: “Valentine's Day arrives very quickly, but for Valentines to be able to offer their Valentines roses, symbols of passion, Liege Airport has been welcoming dozens of planes loaded with millions of flowers for several days. Thank you to the entire cargo community for your efforts in favor of love!”
1,260 tons of those flowers were brought in by Network Airline Management (NAM) from Nairobi, Kenya, on board of 12 B747F during the first two weeks of February; each flight containing an average payload of 105 tons. Roses and carnations as far as the eye could see.
Over in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the heart of the global flower industry, the airport welcomes around 4,000 tons of flowers in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.
Not just flowers…
Emirates SkyCargo listed “the top five commodities” that it transports for Valentine’s Day. Flowers are definitely in first place, the airline emphasized, revealing that it had already flown over 3,000 tons in JAN22, alone, “freshly harvested from farms in Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia, Ethiopia and many other countries,” with the majority of them heading to the Netherlands for redistribution to other global markets.
Chocolates are another big favorite. The airline carried “more than 150 tons of premium chocolate around the world during the months of January and February  with a sharp surge during the week before Valentine’s Day,” mainly from Brussels, Zurich, Düsseldorf, and Beirut.
Perfumes are next on the list: “Over the last week of January alone, Emirates SkyCargo moved more than 200 tons of high-end perfumes […] just in time to stock retail shelves ahead of Valentine’s Day,” followed by “more than 1,200 tons of high-end watches in January and February” alongside jewelry, too. “Last, but not the least, electronic gadgets and especially items such as mobile phones are also in high demand as gift items for Valentine’s Day,” the airline reveals. “In the two-week period leading up to Valentine’s Day, Emirates SkyCargo flew more than 1,500 tons of electronic gadgets from manufacturing destinations in Asia to consumer markets across the world.”
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Speaking of the Little Prince, whilst this particular shipment was not specifically related to Valentine’s Day, it is still one of those that stands out from your everyday cargo commodities. AFKLMP Cargo recently announced on LinkedIn, that “a very special shipment was welcomed at Paris CDG on 01FEB22, when flight AF007 arrived from New York carrying several pages of the original manuscript of The Little Prince, the masterpiece by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The captain's copy was also on board. The precious pages, which are part of the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, were on their way to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, where they will be presented to the French public for the first time, as part of the exhibition ‘A la rencontre du Petit Prince’. Air France is proud to be partnered with this exhibition, which will be on from 17 February to 26 June 2022”.
What a romantic idea it would be to go and visit the master of “seeing with the heart” in the world’s greatest City of Love! And aside from Valentine’s Day, where would that exhibition be without air cargo?
As AFKLMP hashtagged its post, air cargo is #heretoconnect
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users.