Kenya woos airlines to meet demand for Valentine’s Day flowers in Europe
Kenya has allowed Ethiopian Airlines Group and Qatar Airways to deploy additional cargo flights to meet the additional demand for Valentine’s Day flowers.
Ethiopia’s national carrier secured 24 flights and the Qatari airline was allowed five “additional ad hoc flights” between late January and mid-February to ease cargo constraints facing Kenyan flower growers, according to Gilbert Kibe, Director General of Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. The additional flights supplement the existing capacity of licensed carriers including Kenya Airways, he said.
The February 14 holiday accounts for around 50% of Kenya’s annual cut flower shipments and there is not enough belly space on passenger flights, which normally account for around half of shipments, according to Clement Tulezi, managing director of the pressure group Kenya Flower. Advice.
Kenya’s flower industry is the largest exporter of flowers to Europe. She sells around 70% of her flowers to the region via Amsterdam.
Weekly freight demand is around 5,200 tonnes during the Valentine’s Day season, but capacity – even with the extra freighters – will be 3,000 tonnes, leaving flower growers with a shortfall of over 2,000 tonnes , Tulezi said.
Freight space constraints and the doubling of air freight charges to an average of $5.70 per kilogram threaten to discourage farmers given the high demand and higher prices for roses. Transport costs averaged $2.40 per kilogram last year, Tulezi said.
The high cost of inputs like fertilizers and chemicals is hurting the industry despite “strong orders and demand for roses”, according to Richard Fernandes, managing director of Marginpar, a flower grower in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and in Zimbabwe.
Royal FloraHolland, which runs three export auctions in the Netherlands, said cut flower prices were 10% higher than a year ago, according to spokesman Michel van Schie.
Nairobi-based freighter Astral Aviation Ltd. has doubled its weekly cargo flights to Europe to ten, and added four to Dubai and Riyadh to meet Valentine’s Day demand, according to chief executive Sanjeev Gadhia .
Flower export earnings rose 3% last year to 110 billion shillings ($968 million) from a year earlier in East Africa’s biggest economy, according to Kenya Flower Council data.