What It Takes to Fly Those Flowers You Forgot to Buy for Your Valentine

You still have a bit of time before Valentine’s Day to get that special gift, but airlines like LAN have been busy ensuring that your local flower shop is well stocked ahead of demand.

LAN CARGO carries flowers year round, but as Cristián Ureta, LAN CARGO’s CEO explains, St. Valentine’s day is peak flower flying season.

“There are two key dates, St. Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, on which we need to put all our energy in and coordinate to meet the sharp increase in demand. This helps us transport three times more than what we fly on regular weeks,” Ureta explains.

Tons and Tons of flower boxes! (And that's no exaggeration).
Tons and Tons of flower boxes! (And that’s no exaggeration).

The airline’s cargo division has carried more than 9,000 tons, over 160 million, bouquets and flowers (which is 26% of the rush flower demand in the region).

The flowers are shipped to Miami, which is one of the most important flower distribution hubs in the world, and the base of operations for LATAM Airlines Group’s cargo unit.

LAN also shipped flowers abroad, across the Atlantic to Europe, principally to the Netherlands. Though some flowers are shipped from the Miami-based U.S. distribution centres as far as Australia and New Zealand.

80% of the flowers LAN CARGO handled went to the U.S., and the remaining 20% went to Europe.

Shipments started three weeks ago, leading up to the big Valentine’s Day rush for flower exporters around the world.

100 cargo planes operated by LATAM Airlines Group took of from Colombia and Ecuador between January 18 and February 7 to meet the scheduling requirements of flower distributors (who can’t afford to forget the big day).

For LATAM, this triple the average number of flights operated throughout the year.

  • The Bogotá-Miami route carries 410 tons on average every week, but that figure rose to 1,040 tons for Valentine’s
  • The Quito-Miami route increased from weekly shipments of 510 tons to 1,300 tons for the holiday. 
  • 80% of the flowers shipped from Colombia and Ecuador which were transported by LATAM Airlines Group cargo are processed through Miami International Airport.
  • 90% of those shipments stay in Florida for distribution and the remaining 10% mainly head for Los Angeles. 
  • The most popular flowers shipped were: roses, carnations, chrysanthemums and pompom flowers.
  • Each cargo plane can carry between 3,100 and 5,200 boxes of flowers.
  • Every aircraft transports around 2 million flower stems.
  • In total, LAN CARGO processed enough stems for each woman in the US to get a least one flower (that’s 160 million).

Really, there’s no excuse. Get out and buy a rosy posy before Sunday so all this hard work won’t have been wasted!

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