Love is in the Air — From Emirates Skycargo With Love

Did you ever wonder where all the roses are coming from that you buy for a loved one on Valentine’s Day? The answer is Colombia and Ecuador. Although Ecuador is the biggest producer and exporter of roses worldwide, Colombia (second largest exporter in the world) is the number one export country for roses to the United States. The South American country sends 4 billion flowers a year to the United States and Valentine’s Day is especially a busy time of the year. In the three weeks before February 14th, 30 cargo planes fly from Colombia to Miami each day, with each plane carrying more than a million flowers. From Miami airport, the flowers are loaded into refrigerated trucks, 200 each day, and from there the roses are being transported to warehouses in South Florida, where they are repackaged, assembled into bouquets, and then shipped all over the country. All of this for the biggest day of the year for florists…Valentine’s Day.

Europe’s Roses Come From As Far Away As Africa And Asia

The main exporter for roses to Europe is Kenya, while countries like Ethiopia, India and the Netherlands are also important rose suppliers in the world. Emirates SkyCargo transported over 70,000 tonnes of fresh flowers including roses across its network of over 150 destinations across six continents. One year ago on February 13, 2017 Emirates had unveiled a unique decal featuring a rose on one of its Boeing 777-F freighter aircraft (A6-EFL) in Dubai. The decal, installed at the Emirates Aircraft Appearance Centre in Dubai, was the first of its kind for Emirates SkyCargo and highlights the strong contribution made by the air cargo carrier to the floriculture industry through the transport of fresh flowers across the world.

The first port of call for the aircraft was Nairobi in Kenya, where the aircraft was loaded with a consignment of flowers headed to Amsterdam, the world’s largest flower distribution center.
And while the volume spikes every year around Valentine’s Day, the transportation of flowers is big business all year long. It is estimated that close to 250 million stems of roses are grown worldwide exclusively to cater to the increased demand for flowers around Valentine’s Day.

It’s a complex job to bring flowers from the field to the store

The journey of a flower usually begins in a farm where it is harvested by hand. The freshly harvested flowers are then sorted, arranged in bouquets and hand packed into boxes which are then loaded on the aircraft. In order to ensure maximum freshness and shelf life, the temperature in the cargo hold of the aircraft is maintained between one and three degrees Celsius.

An Emirates spokesperson said: “In the two months since the installation of the rose decal, Rosie has been playing her part in facilitating global trade. During this time the aircraft has travelled around the world to over 35 cities in 25 countries across six continents ranging from Australia to the US.
“Rosie has also carried over 7,000 tons of cargo ranging from general cargo to perishables, pharmaceuticals, cars and even horses. True to her name, Rosie has also transported over 550 tonnes of roses over multiple flights between Nairobi in Kenya, Quito in Ecuador to the global flower hub in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.”

‘Rosie’ also made a special appearance in Barcelona last year on the occasion of ‘The Day of the Rose’. The Catalan festival, originally St Jordi’s Day, is celebrated on April 23 every year with locals gifting roses and books to one another.

On August 28, on the day of the Qixi festival, ‘Rosie’ arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport in China to mark the day known as Chinese Valentine’s Day.

Back in Dubai, early September, Rosie also featured prominently in an initiative organised by Emirates SkyCargo to mark the South Indian festival of Onam. The festival is celebrated by those living in the state of Kerala as well as by over a million Keralites living in the Middle East region.

Rosie marks the Indian festival of Onam with colourful tradition ‘Pookalam’. Photo by Emirates.
In the six months from February till September 2017, ‘Rosie’ flew over 400 flights and carried over 20,000 tons of cargo.
Rosie at Shanghai Airport on Chinese Valentine’s Day. Photo by Emirates
Emirates SkyCargo is the largest international airline cargo operator in the world and an important facilitator of global trade connecting businesses and communities across the world through Dubai.
With an unrivalled route network, they connect cargo customers to over 150 cities in 83 countries on six continents and operate in many of the world’s fastest developing markets.
The air cargo carrier operates a modern fleet of 260 aircraft including 14 freighters, 13 Boeing 777-Fs and one B747-400ERF.