Paola Linares, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo South America:

Valentine’s Day calls for 'anticipation game'

For Air France KLM Martinair Cargo South America the Valentine's peak is over. For about two weeks (the end of January till February 8th), they transported a little over 1,250 tonnes of flowers from Quito, Ecuador and almost 800 tons flowers from Colombia to their main destination; Amsterdam. We spoke with Paola Linares, Commercial Support Manager by South America of Air France KLM Martinair Cargo in Colombia about the process, changes, and challenges of being an air cargo business during this time of the year.

Amsterdam; main destination
In the run-up to Valentine's Day (February 14), the majority of the flowers that Air France KLM Martinair Cargo transports are roses shipped from Ecuador and Colombia to Amsterdam, where they are distributed all over the world afterwards. "The roses from Ecuador are transported to Amsterdam and part of those will connect to Russia or Asia. The largest part of the roses coming from Colombia also go to Amsterdam but also to UK using our STN intermediate stop. Once in Amsterdam part of these flowers will connect to Japan or sent to the Royal FloraHolland auction Aalsmeer, and from there to the rest of Europe - France, Italy, UK or your local florist", explains Paola.

Changes of V-day shipments over the years
The flower demand (in terms of flower volumes) during this time of the year has been stable for them over the last few years. And, according to Paola, this is quite satisfactory when taking into account the significant reduction of their Full Freighter capacity since 2016. "In order to cope with this capacity reduction, we have been handling important volumes via Interline solutions and short Full Freighter “loops” (BOGCURBOG) helping us feedering the flowers through our Caribbean hub in Curaçao and other surrounding islands", she explains (based on the call with Mr. Enrique Falcon Director South America).

However, in terms of destinations, Paola does notices a change. "The destinations has become more mixed. From shipping 100% to the Netherlands and the UK, we have shifted to a more diverse mix which lately includes the growing demand in Asia."

And this year, she also noticed a change in demand regarding type of flowers. "Roses are the number one flower during Valentine's Day, this year we also have a new demand for Peruvian lilies. We shipped around 7 tonnes of lilies out of Peru."

During Valentine's Day, air cargo businesses like Air France KLM Martinair Cargo are dealing with several challenges. "First of all, a challenge that they encounter throughout the year is to preserve the temperature sensitive products from temperature excursions. Besides that, and especially for holidays like Valentine’s Day, there is the challenge to shorten as much as possible the “time to market”."

Dealing with challenges
How is Air France KLM Martinair Cargo dealing with the challenges? "We always play the “anticipation game”. Our forecast during the peaks is clearly defined several weeks in advance, allowing us to program our capacity accordingly, whether this is on our own scheduled flights, additional operations or partnering with our interline providers. Of course, when you deal with such large volumes of flowers the challenges can arise unexpectedly. However, by keeping a very close communication and coordination with our customers through our Customer service and Operations teams, we are better prepared to react quickly and mitigate the potential issues that we could face. In South America our slogan has evolved to “Flying by your side”, which expresses exactly the aforementioned statements."

"In any case, our local teams, our colleagues in Amsterdam and in all the network have been working with this unique product for so long that we know that during Valentines (and the other flower peaks) we need to be extra alert in order to intervene fast and efficiently in case of need", Paola concludes.

For more information
Air France KLM Martinair Cargo
Paola Alexandra Linares Murcia, Inside Sales Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

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