Air freight operators have almost completed their shift of capacity back into China following the Lunar New Year celebrations.
A number of U.S. and European freighter operators moved capacity out of major hubs and off normal East-West trade lanes as factories started to close down in late January for the New Year holidays. These officially commenced on Jan. 31 and lasted for a week, but many factories cut output much sooner and are only now returning to full capacity.
“We reduced a significant number freighter connections over Chinese New Year,” said a spokesman for Lufthansa Cargo. “We do this every year as demand is dropping heavily during the season. We will increase the capacity back to normal schedule in the coming days.”
Another European airline executive based in Asia said it increased its calls in India and Africa as demand from Asia fell but had now moved one freighter back onto Shanghai routes.
Valentine’s Day brings extra demand
One of the major bonuses for airlines is that the Chinese New Year shutdown tends to coincide with Valentine’s Day — Feb. 14 for the less than romantic.
The increase in flower demand offers airlines some succor while the lights are off in China and other parts of Asia. Lufthansa, for example, moved around 1,000 metric tons from producing countries into Frankfurt this year, mainly from Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador.
Miami International Airport tends to host large volumes of U.S.-bound flowers from South America, Air France-KLM-Martinair flew more than 800 metric tons of flowers into Europe earlier this month, while AirBridgeCargo Airlines was another beneficiary. Russia’s largest cargo carrier reported a major rise in flower imports ahead of Feb. 14, transporting over 1,400 tons of flowers from Amsterdam to Moscow, an 18 percent increase over the same period in 2013.
“The demand for flowers in Russia is buoyant,” said Denis Ilin, Executive President of AirBridgeCargo. “The market is worth over US$1 billion a year and over 75 percent of flowers are imported, with Amsterdam being a sort of pooling point for flowers coming from different parts of the world.”
ABC said March would see another peak in flower traffic due to International Women’s Day.
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