Release Date: 04 February 2007
Release ID: 800
Milky moonlight illuminates the runway of Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Airport when first officer Ragnar Ingason pushes the two engines of his Airbus freighter A300-622F into full throttle.
Fifty seconds later flight EY914 is airborne. “Today, we have exactly 33 tons on board,“ explains Captain Andreas Makrandreou of Etihad Crystal Cargo, once the plane is on course.
Today’s shipment consists of a colourful assortment of roses being transported to Frankfurt by Etihad Crystal Cargo. The roses are kept cool at 6 degrees centigrade in the aircraft’s cargo compartments, guaranteeing that they arrive in perfect shape at their final destinations. “Flower shipments are good business for Etihad Crystal Cargo as their weight is low but they fill the aircraft right under the roof,” says Captain Makrandreou.
The flight from Abu Dhabi via Khartoum to Addis Ababa and back takes 14 hours
including the paperwork, the loading and refuelling of the aircraft and the mandatory inspections. These procedures underpin the security, efficiency and success of Etihad Crystal Cargo’s operations. Reliability is essential in the cargo industry; clients expect their goods to be delivered promptly and in perfect condition.
Rupert Batstone, Acting Vice President Cargo, explains, “We stepped into the flower business because there is a huge demand in Europe and the Middle East for fresh roses, carnations and lilies.”
Flower farms are mushrooming all over Ethiopia; presently there are 48 farms dotted around the East African State covering hundreds of hectares with their plastic greenhouses. Some 270 investors are standing in line to fund this booming trade. “We commenced this route because we see great potential to develop this product,” says Batstone.
Enyi Ethio Rose, which has 25 hectares under cultivation, is one of the largest rose producers in Ethiopia.
“We export an average of 122,000 stems per day,” says Adane Gebru, Enyi’s farm manager.
The flowers are cut while their buds are closed, and are then stored in temperature-controlled rooms before being packed into cartons containing 400 stems each. Thermo trucks are used to transport the sensitive goods to Addis Ababa Airport, where they are mounted onto pallets and flown via Abu Dhabi to Europe.
A glance into the transport boxes during unloading at Frankfurt airport reveals flowers that seem to have been harvested on the farm just minutes before.
When asked about the amount of time elapsed between harvest and sale, Batstone says, “we fly the flowers out of Ethiopia on Friday and some are already being sold on Saturday to customers from flower shops in Germany, France and the Netherlands”.
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