FRANCE: Capacity shortage stunts Cargolux cut flowers traffic growth.
By Stuart Todd
Reuters English News Service
(C) Reuters Limited 2000.

PARIS, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Cargolux International Airlines said a shortage of freighter capacity from South America to Europe and from Europe to the U.S. risked stunting the growth of its cut flowers traffic.

"Quite simply, we could do more business if we had more space," Rebecca Mok, Cargolux's country manager for the Netherlands, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

She added that recent requests from flower exporters in South America and Holland to put on extra flights to cope with the pre-Valentine's Day peak had had to be turned down.

Cargolux had not been in a position to make more capacity available as a result of buoyant demand on its scheduled freighter network, particularly in Asia, she said.

"If we compare Valentine's Day this year with 1999, we probably handled more or less the same volumes of cut flowers but the potential to raise volumes is definitely there," Mok said.

Cargolux's capacity squeeze had been exacerbated by the fact that one of its ten Boeing 747-400Fs is in for heavy maintenance which would last several weeks.

Cargolux operates a twice-weekly frequency from Bogota to Luxembourg, dedicated to cut flower shipments of Colombian and Ecuadorian origin.

"We are shipping around 200 tonnes of ex-South America flowers per week and with production all the year-round, it is possible to cater for surges in demand in Europe such as at Christmas/New Year, Valentine's and forthcoming peak periods such as Mothers' Days, Women's Day in Russia and Easter."

Major markets for Cargolux's Dutch-origin flowers shipments are Japan and the Gulf states with Hong Kong and Singapore among the emerging import gateways. The Luxembourg-based carrier is also beginning to tap the Holland-U.S. market.

"This market is now opening up to us having convinced shippers and forwarders it was possible to offer a high-quality end-to-end service for cut flowers - and perishables in general - without having direct flights out of Schiphol. However, we are being held back because capacity to the U.S. is tight," Mok added.

In a joint-venture with Nairobi-based Fast Airways, Cargolux also operates a twice-weekly cut flowers freighter service from Nairobi to Maastricht.

((Air Cargo newsroom +44 171 542 7706 fax +5017

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