Blogger: David Dahlson
Another Valentine’s season is in the books, and today lovers, wives, spouses, partners, secret admirers and overtly affectionate people everywhere will express their feelings with flowers. An overwhelming majority will give roses, and many of these roses will come from Ecuador, which is why Mayesh places so much emphasis on endeavoring to assure the quality of these products.
On my last day In Ecuador, I went to visit the new international airport, which is set to open on February 20th, in just seven days. The old airport became engulfed by the city, and a new airport is long overdue. It was originally slated to open in 2007, but due to political haggling and budgetary concerns it has taken until now to get to a point where it can open. Clearly it has now become politically expedient to open, whether the airport is ready or not. I say this because clearly the airport as a whole is in no state to be opening, as many of the ancillary buildings and services are not ready, and in particular almost none of the cargo facilities are complete.
The runway, control tower, taxi ways and the passenger terminal are indeed complete. However, almost none of the cargo facilities are close to being finished with the exception of the palletizing building. The customs buildings, as well as the freight forwarder facilities of some of the principal cargo agencies are still just skeletal frames comprised of huge steel girders. Estimates project these may be six more months to be completed. A lot of the parking areas are still to be completed, some of the interior roadways need to be finished, as well as the administrative center, and all in all one scratches one’s head in bewilderment; but as they say resignedly in Quito, “The airport will open because it has to!”
Fortunately for Mayesh, their freight forwarder, “Flowercargo” as well as Fresh Logistics, Royal Cargo, Pacific, Valu and EPF have a facility under construction just outside the airport boundaries that is close to completion and according to Juan-Simon Bustamente, GM of Flowercargo, will open on the 20th of February.
Unfortunately, many of the large agencies such as G & G, Panatlantic, Transinternational and the Kuehne & Nagel group are left high and dry and will have to continue operating out of Quito. This will incur massive expenses, as the farms will still need to drive to Quito, where those freight forwarders will consolidate the cargo and the truck it to the new airport, about an hour away – if there is no traffic.
The plan to open on the 20th of this month also will have grave implications for the Russian holiday of “Women’s Day”, as getting the freight organized for dispatch will be a massive head-ache. Even worse for the Russians is the fact that a lot of their Woman’s Day crop has come and gone due to the exceptionally hot weather. I have heard prices as high as cm. plus 0.80c!!!
Considering that the airport was designed for an opening in 2007, it is not surprising that it is already too small, and a second phase of construction for the passenger terminal is already in the works. Probably the greatest tragedy is that the cargo facilities were completely ignored, and have been addressed only as an afterthought. This is a pity as the chance to have a modern, efficient cargo hub has been completely dashed, and the facilities will now be a patchwork of band-aids and an inadequate mish-mash of add-ons.
Clearly, everyone in the business of importing/exporting flowers from Ecuador will have several weeks, if not months of logistics problems; and for growers, truckers, cargo agents in both Quito and Miami, as well as the final customer there will have to be a higher level of cooperation than ever before.
Even the roads to and from Quito to Tabavela, where the airport is located, have not been built, and are not expected to be completed until 2015. For passengers and cargo logistics alike the likelihood of a daily traffic nightmare will soon be realized. The new airport seems to be not so much “Back to the future”; as it is “Forward to the past.”
I wish everybody in our business all the best for Valentine’s Day, and I do hope that the one you love receives some flowers. Preferably from you! Hasta la vista.