Emirates SkyCargo Rosie


Do you ever wonder where all the roses are coming from, which you buy for a loved one on Valentine’s Day? The answer is Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Ethiopia, India or The Netherlands. One thing is clear – the transport of flowers is big business all year round, but the demand for red roses is very high in the Valentine’s season. All these flowers are being transported by freighter aircraft all around the world to an airport in your country, from where the flowers are transported to your local store, so you can give the most beautiful bouquet of red roses to your loved one on Valentine’s Day.

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Emirates SkyCargo B777 ‘Rosie’ lands at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in July 2017, to deliver flowers to the country of The Netherlands. The aircraft flew for almost a year with the rose decal, especially for Valentine’s Day 2017. Video: JERRY TAHA AVIATION

Where do cut flowers come from?

The Netherlands has been dominating the overall flower trade in the world for more than 200 years now, but countries on the equator like Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Ethiopia and India are becoming increasingly important as growers.

Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Ethiopia, India and The Netherlands are the most important countries in the world when it comes to the export of cut flowers for Valentine’s Day.

America’s roses

Although Ecuador is the biggest producer and exporter of roses worldwide, Colombia is the number one export country for roses to the United States and second largest exporter in the world.

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

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 to Europe.

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Check the full flower transportation process from farm to loading. KLM Cargo is the dedicated partner to the African continent. Video: AFKLMPCargo

From the field to the store

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 the flower 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 1 and 3 degrees Celsius (34 -37 degrees Fahrenheit).

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KLM Social Media Intern Julie takes a look into flower transport with KLM Cargo at Amsterdam Airport. Video: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Emirates Sky Cargo

Emirates SkyCargo is currently the number 2 air cargo carrier in the world after FedEx, and – next to KLM Cargo – one of the world leaders in flower transport, transporting over 70,000 tonnes of fresh flowers including roses across its network of over 150 destinations across 6 continents every year.

Emirates SkyCargo is the air freight division of Emirates, and currently has 11 Boeing 777-F aircraft in its freighter fleet, all leased from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. Emirates also operates a fleet of more than 255 passenger aircraft.

Three years ago – on February 13, 2017 – Emirates unveiled a unique decal in Dubai, featuring a rose on one of its Boeing 777-F freighter aircraft (A6-EFL), The aircraft soon got its nickname ‘Rosie’.

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From Emirates SkyCargo with Love. Video: Emirates

Rosie recieved the decal at the Emirates Aircraft Appearance Centre in Dubai, and the aircraft 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.

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Emirates is spreading love on Valentine’s Day 2020. Video: Emirates

Big business

The transportation of flowers is big business all year long, but the volume spikes every year around Valentine’s Day. It’s 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.

What started in the U.S. as a special day to share your love with your loved one, is nowadays also getting more popular in Europe, Asia and other continents in the world.

As a result, there is a need for a large number of cargo flights around Valentine’s Day to deliver all roses on time to airports around the world, after which the flowers are transported to your local store, allowing you to buy the most beautiful bouquet of red roses for your loved one – for that one special day in the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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