Daily Breeze: New Route Promises LAX a Rose Garden

Daily Breeze: New Route Promises LAX a Rose Garden

By Gene Maddaus, Staff Writer, Daily Breeze
April 3, 2009

If it did, it probably arrived on a plane in Miami, where it was loaded onto a refrigerated truck for a long cross-country drive.

That circuitous supply route is getting a lot shorter, however, thanks to a new cold-storage facility at Los Angeles International Airport.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was on hand this morning to officially open the facility, which is kept at a brisk 35 degrees. The goal is to turn Los Angeles into a hub for distribution of flowers on the West Coast, which could result in lower prices at local flower shops.

For example, before the facility opened it might take 71 hours to transport a flower from Colombia to Miami and then to Portland, Ore. Now, if the flowers come through LAX, it might take only 21 hours.

That also reduces costs. Whereas it might have cost $6 to transport a single rose before, now it might be around $2.

The Mercury Air Cargo warehouse is now handling six planeloads of flowers every week, three from Bogotá, Colombia, and three from Quito, Ecuador.

"Before we never had that kind of capacity," said David Herbst, of Mercury Air Group. "Los Angeles never had a large enough refrigeration unit to process that many flowers."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got a warm reception inside the 12,700-square-foot cooler at Mercury Air Cargo that will house flowers and perishable products flown in each day from South America.
(Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer)

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