Transporting vegetables & fruits requires extra care & special techniques

Published: Monday, April 24, 2017

UAE National Affairs, said, “Last year,
Emirates SkyCargo deployed three
dedicated freighter flights, two from
Thiruvananthapuram and one from
Kochi, transporting more than 288
tonnes of perishables including a
variety of vegetables and fruits to the
Middle East especially for the Onam
celebrations in the region.

“The transport of vegetables and
fruits from Kerala for Onam
celebrations in the Middle East is a
significant achievement for
Emirates SkyCargo as special
arrangements had to be made to
operate freighter aircrafts from
Thiruvananthapuram and Kochiairports
which normally are not
equipped to handle freighter
“Also in the run up to Valentine’s
day, we operated nine additional
dedicated freighters to transport
f l o w e r s f r o m N a i r o b i t o

Finnair said the most perishable items
they transport, include Papaya, Baby
Corn, Lemon Grass, Rambutan,
Longan, Chillies, etc.

N o r w e g i a n C a r g o s e e s h u g e
opportunities in perishable shipments
as they fly state-of-the-art 787
Dreamliners that have temperature
control capabilities to optimise the
shelf life of fresh goods and serve as a
growing network of important hubs
where perishables such as fresh fish is

“We’re able to make fast shipments of
fresh salmon, shellfish and halibut
from northern Norway to the US East
Coast by the evening using our narrow
body capacity which then connects on
to our widebody transatlantic services.
With this in mind, using our GSA at
Oslo Airport, Aviation Plus, we are
working to ship more volumes of
perishables as we continue to deliver a
strong proposition for our customers,”
said a Norwegian Cargo spokesperson
who asked not to be named.

The most challenging perishable
cargoes Lufthansa flew in 2015 are all
kinds of berries, cherries, papayas,
mangoes and beans and mixed


All fruits and vegetables require
optimum temperatures during transit
and storage which are dependent
upon varietal, climatic and other
details of the produce.

Oliver Blum, Lufthansa Cargo Head of
Operations Fresh/td Handling & Cross
F u n c t i o n s , s a i d , “We p r o v i d e
controlled temperature on board our
freighters and wide-body aircraft.

Te m p e r a t u r e – s e n s i t i v e g r o u n d
handling, including reducing weather
and climate effects through the fastest
possible transportation to and from
the aircraft are also part of the special
h a n d l i n g o f p e r i s h a b l e g o o d s .
Moreover, we offer storage in Europe’s
largest refrigerated warehouse, the
Perishable Center Frankfurt at our
Lufthansa Cargo Hub Frankfurt.”

Hawaiian Airlines physically and
systematically identifies and labels
f r u i t s a n d v e g e t a b l e s b e f o r e

Brad Matheny, Senior Director at
Hawaiian Airlines, notes, “We mark
shipments with a commodity code so
we can easily identify their contents
and handle accordingly”.

Cargo protection

Apart from the services, Lufthansa also
provides parking positions in Frankfurt
directly in front of the Perishable
Center to reduce the tarmac times to a

“The face life, as well as the shelf-life
(and its prolongation) of the product is
in the focus of our most important
activities. To keep e.g. the flowers and
plants or fruits and vegetables in good
condition and to even extend the shelf
life the joint optimization of the
transport and co-operation of all
involved supply-chain partners is
getting more and more important,
beginning at the farm until delivery to
the consumer. The packaging for the
entire transport needs to compensate
exposures to unfavorable temperature
and weather conditions for limited
periods of time throughout the
t r a n s p o r t a t i o n . Wi t h Fr e s h / t d
L u f t h a n s a C a r g o p r o v i d e s a
p r e d o m i n a n t l y t e m p e r a t u r e –
controlled environment during flight
a n d s t o r a g e a n d h a n d l i n g b y
experienced personnel,” said Blum.

David Kerr, Senior Vice President of
Etihad Cargo notes, “In the Middle East,
we long for the winter when the
temperature drops – our challenge is
throughout the summer months with
their extreme temperatures. During
the hot months, we need to ensure the
fruit and vegetable shipments move
swiftly between aircraft and handling
facilities to as not to compromise the
cool chain.

“We monitor the temperature in the
bellyhold of the aircraft and ensure the
pallet is not sitting on the ramp for too
long during loading and offloading.
Then, inside the warehouse, they are
stored in temperature controlled areas
until they are ready for their next flight
or collection by the consignee (usually
in temperature controlled trucks)”.


Etihad Airways uses several options
available at the shippers’ request,
i n c l u d i n g E n v i r o t a i n e r s , a c t i v e
temperature-controlled containers for
air cargo; pre-cooled thermo blanket
protection and cool dollies.

However, in cooperation with the
Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF),
Lufthansa uses a vacuum-cooling for
flowers in Frankfurt.

This is an offer which is preferably used
for flowers which do have an overall
long transport time, coming from
South America or Africa and facing
again a long transport from Frankfurt to
their final destination.

The Vacuum-cooler can cool down
two PMC pallets (96×125 inches) in
just 30 minutes; a rapid yet gentle
cooling is advantageous for the
lifespan of sensitive, perishable
g o o d s s u c h a s f l o w e r s .
Additionally, the Fast-cooler is
often used for fruits during transit
in Frankfurt.

Hawaiian Airlines uses data loggers to
run tests of their supply chain, but not
on per shipment basis.

Infrastructure and solutions

The customer needs to deliver the
goods on a pallet ready for carriage,
a n d t h e s h i p p e r/ a g e n t w i l l b e
responsible for the packaging which is
most suitable for the entire transport.

L u f t h a n s a p r o v i d e s c o n t r o l l e d
temperature on board its freighters
and wide-body aircraft and offers
storage in Europe’s largest refrigerated
warehouse, the Perishable Center
Frankfurt at its Lufthansa Cargo Hub

Emirates SkyCargo has superior cool
chain capabilities to connect two very
distant points on the globe for
temperature sensitive perishables.
Some of its innovative product
offerings developed by its team,
include, the White Cover – Innovative
protection product for temperature
sensitive shipments. The white cover is
designed to shield temperaturesensitive
cargo from solar heat during

It is water resistant, yet breathable,
ideal for ‘living’ food and flower
products, environmentally friendly
and 100 percent recyclable. It allows
for cooling of the shipment during
transportation and cold storage. On
application, it completely encloses the
shipments and weighs no more than
three kilograms.

“Our product development team
i n v e n t e d a n e w t e m p e r a t u r e
controlled container which we named
‘White Container’. It is coated on the
inside with thermal Insulators to
counteract high temperatures in Dubai
and help preserve temperaturesensitive
cargo, including fruits and
vegetables but also pharmaceuticals.
“We continue to develop innovative
solutions working closely with our
customers. We have a number of new
and exciting developments in the
pipeline,” affirms Al Falahi.

Staff training

All airlines handling perishable
products follow IATA’s Perishable
Cargo Regulations, and according to
them, all staff handling perishable
items are regularly well trained and per
IATA’s handling procedure guidance.
Howe v e r, E t i h a d c a r g o i s v e r y
cognisant of the special handling
required for temperature sensitive
cargo, particularly the importance of
maintaining the cool environment in
which they are stored.