A New Market to Love – Atlas Expands Its Flower Business in Time for Valentine’s Day

The 767 being loaded with flowers for the first flight on Jan 17, 2024.

Each year, starting in January, air cargo volumes blossom with tonnes of flowers taking flight to be presented as bouquets. Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest holidays of the year for florists and the weeks leading up to this holiday are one of Atlas’ busiest peak seasons. In the United States, 80% of flowers imported are from Colombia.

This year, there’s more love in the air, when it comes to Atlas’ operation. On January 17, Atlas began operating a 767 filled with flowers out of José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) and into Miami International Airport (MIA).

“This was a logical next step for us,” said Arian Castellanos, Senior Manager Ground Ops Systems and Technical Solutions. “We’ve always had a strong presence flying flowers out of Bogotá, which is the largest market interms of volume. Expanding our Colombia operation into Medellín, the second largest flower market in Colombia, ensures we can meet the demand.”

Photo from inside the warehouse on Jan 17.

Frank Diaz, Senior Director Sales and Marketing added, “Bogotá produces mostly roses, but Medellín is a warmer climate, which provide different kinds of flowers like carnations and peonies. We used to take flowers from Medellín, pack them on a truck and ship them to Bogotá to fly to Miami but with the addition of this route, we can fly them out of Medellín, which saves time and allows them to arrive fresher.”

The 767 is also a new fleet type for our South America Operation and came at good time to serve Atlas’ flower peak.

“With our flower flights from Bogotá, we fly a 747,” said Frank. “Since Medellín is a smaller market, with less volume, we are able to leverage our 767. It’s exciting to bring in a new fleet type into the region as well serve a new market.”

In addition to creating a new market, the route has also grown the import business into Miami.

The aircraft prepares for departure out of MDE on Jan 17.

“Previously, we were importing flowers from Quito and Bogotá to Miami,” said Arian. “The expansion into Medellín increases our flights into the station and we now operate five flights a week on this route.”

“We are committed to this market,” said Frank. “Mother’s Day (in May) is our next peak and although the volume will drop after that, we will continue to fly flowers from Medellín. We are committed to meet the demand of the Colombian market and maintain our presence year-round.”

Key participants who made this route possible include Jorge Rosales, Senior Director of Security PAX, Latin America, Santiago Char, Atlas Air Station Manager in Bogotá and our local sales staff in Colombia.