Carrier delivers flowers and smiles for Valentine's Day

As flowers are ordered to be delivered in time for Valentine’s Day, we found the behind-the-scenes logistics equally smile-worthy. One of the major airlines transporting flowers from Latin America is LATAM Cargo, which specializes in making certain that the fragile cargo arrives in the United States and beyond as fresh and beautiful as when it was picked in South America.

More than 140 LATAM Cargo planes (equivalent to B767-300F) took off from Colombia and Ecuador carrying flowers for this year’s Valentine’s day, which along with Mother’s Day represents the peak of fresh flower export activity. 

Red and pink roses, mixed bouquets, carnations, chrysanthemums, iris, gypsophila and greenery were all in high demand this Valentine’s Day season. The flowers were transported from Bogota and Medellin in Colombia and from Quito in Ecuador to destinations in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Oceania. This connectivity was made possible thanks to the 140 destinations that make up the LATAM Cargo network, linking Latin America to the rest of the world. 

“Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day are peak periods where LATAM Cargo demonstrates its leadership in Latin America by successfully completing a highly complex operation,” said Felipe Caballero, Commercial Director for Central and Northern South America, LATAM Cargo. “We have the expertise to increase frequencies and meet our customers’ needs. We are dynamic and rigorous in our operation, and even when demand spikes, we can tackle the challenge of maintaining the cold chain so that these flowers retain their freshness and quality. In this way, we are helping to boost Colombia’s and Ecuador’s positions as major global producers of fresh flowers.

LATAM Cargo unloads flower shipment

To satisfy the demand, LATAM Cargo, the leader in air cargo transportation to, from and within Latin America, increased its cargo frequencies in Colombia from 12 to 23 flights during the busiest week. Similarly, in Ecuador, the company increased its frequencies from 10 to 31 cargo flights during peak operation times. In total, they more than doubled transport options for 4,180 tons of fresh flowers from Colombia and 4,920 from Ecuador. 

The main importer of this season's flowers was the United States. The city of Miami was particularly relevant, as it received 8,050 tons, equivalent to 88 percent of the flowers transported by LATAM Cargo during the Valentine’s Day holiday,  almost doubling regular traffic. Miami is one of the world's largest distribution hubs and home to the cargo operations of LATAM Airlines Group. 

Miami was trailed only by Amsterdam with 500 tons, and Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Madrid and Paris to lesser extents. Flowers were also flown into New York, Santiago and New Zealand, among other destinations.

Colombia and Ecuador are the main producers shipping flowers to the United States, the Netherlands and China, among other destinations. The Bogota savanna in Colombia is the country's main flower growing area, with 70 percent of production.  It is followed by the Eastern Antioquia region with 25 percent, with other areas across the country making up the difference. In the savanna, the municipality of Madrid has the largest number of hectares planted, although other areas like Funza, El Rosal, Chía, Cajicá, Facatativá, Tocancipá and Tenjo also stand out as large producers.

In Eastern Antioquia, the main production zone is La Ceja, followed by Rionegro, Guarne, La Unión, El Carmen de Viboral and the municipality of Santa Elena. 

In Ecuador, flower production concentrates in the areas of Cayambe and El Quinche, which account for almost 60 percent of all roses exported, and Latacunga with approximately 1,000 hectares planted. The province of Azuay also produces large numbers of flowers.