Amsterdam Airport Schiphol saw a massive 50% increase in freighter capacity from Nairobi, in the week running up to St. Valentine’s Day.
The usual 30 flights increased to 45, as the airport prepared to handle the annual influx of roses and other blooms from Kenya, before the flowers were re-exported to markets across Europe – primarily Germany, France and the UK.
The volume of cut flowers passing through Schiphol also grew by 50%, compared to normal levels. Estimates place the week’s traffic at 70 million inbound stems; when added to the larger volume of flowers from Dutch growers, the outbound traffic by air and truck reached a total of 100 million red roses, 100 million red tulips, 100 million assorted other varieties, and 20 million pot plants.
In early 2014, Schiphol Airport established a temporary truck park to provide off-road accommodation for the large increase in vehicles visiting the airport to deliver and collect flowers during the pre-St. Valentine’s Day boom. The success of the arrangement has led to the construction of a permanent facility for 60 vehicles.
This year’s St. Valentine’s Day produced overall flower traffic volumes similar to 2014, reports Schiphol Cargo Business Development Director, Bart Pouwels: “St. Valentine’s Day sales were level with 2014 for two reasons; firstly, this year’s St. Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday, which is a day when many people already buy flowers for their partners. Secondly, it was also the start of the Carnival period, whose activities in various markets overshadowed the celebration of St. Valentines’ Day.”
Reflecting the importance of flowers and other perishables to Schiphol, the airport’s cargo division is organizing and co-hosting a flower shippers’ forum at the forthcoming Air Cargo Africa conference in Johannesburg. Under the title “Shipping Perishables: Grounds for change?”, the session will bring industry experts and shippers together to examine new trends in the perishables supply chain, and discuss how the air cargo industry can respond.