How Atlas Air Rose to the Occasion this Valentine’s Day

Every year, Atlas ships over five million kilos of flowers, making the journey from farms to consumers.

Today is Valentine’s Day in the U.S. and many other countries around the world. Chances are, if you sent or received a bouquet today, those flowers were flown in from Colombia and Ecuador and likely on an Atlas Air Boeing 747 freighter. In advance of the holiday, Atlas Air imported 5,370,146 kilos of fresh cut flowers to Miami International Airport (MIA) on 74 flights – 40 flights from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) in Colombia and 34 flights from Mariscal Sucre de Quito International Airport (UIO) in Ecuador between January 20 and February 8. All on the B747F.

Since MIA ranks first among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of fresh cut flowers, Atlas expanded the cooler facility there by an additional 20,000 square feet for a total of 76,000 square feet of cooler capacity to meet the demand. With this expansion, Atlas Air can now simultaneously handle up to four B747F flights of flowers. The cooler in MIA now has a total of 26 doors to deliver flowers to our customers, and a total of 6 AOA (Ramp doors) to bring Unit Loading Devices (ULDs) with flowers directly to the cooler from the airplane.

Lucas Vargas, MIA Station Manager, notes how the expansion has benefitted Atlas’ operation, and the tremendous team effort that made it possible.

Pallets of fresh flowers are loaded onto an Atlas B747F at MIA.

“In previous years, our main constraint was space, but this expansion has enabled us to handle the high volume of flowers that we move,” said Lucas. “This means a better experience for our customers and upholds our commitment to exceptional customer service.

He continued, “It was really a huge team effort across Ground Ops, Flight Ops and Tech Ops, and our vendor, Worldwide Flight Services (WFS). Once we launched the expansion, everyone came together to brainstorm how we can handle the freight better, how we can improve the process flow and/or mitigate any issues. It’s already a strong season, but for me, it’s been successful because everyone came together to find the best solutions for our customers.”

Check out this video taken at Miami International Airport (MIA).