Mercury Air Cargo opens cold-storage unit at LAX

Mercury Air Cargo opens cold-storage unit at LAX

LA Times

Mercury Air Cargo facility

The company spent $1.1 million to build the 12,700-square-foot refrigerated facility. Now flower shipments from South America can go directly to LAX, instead of to Miami first.

By Nathan Olivarez-Giles
April 2, 2009

Flowers from South America, once shipped to Southern California florists by truck from Miami, now are getting a quick trip to Los Angeles International Airport and a chilly welcome.

Since early March, tulips, carnations, astromelias and roses have been flown to LAX, where a 12,700-square-foot cold-storage unit has been built to handle the airborne flowers and get them to consumers faster.

"We've seen six 767s a week full of flowers, two platforms inside the plane with no room for passengers, over the last three weeks that we've had the unit open," said David Herbst, a spokesman for Mercury Air Cargo, which owns the unit. "That's something that wasn't here just a month ago and it's a glimmer of good news in an otherwise dreary economy."

This morning, the facility will be officially opened at a colorful ceremony with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, city officials and representatives of Mercury. The Los Angeles-based international cargo company spent $1.1 million to build the facility inside a 200,000-square-foot warehouse at LAX to make way for the flower shipments that require temperatures of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The unit is the West Coast's largest on-airport cold-storage unit, with previous facilities at about 4,000 square feet, Herbst said.

The six planeloads a week the unit has seen so far have come from Mercury's partnership with Lan Cargo, a subsidiary of Lan Airlines based in Santiago, Chile, said Ivo Skorin, Lan's West Coast cargo director. He said Lan previously flew flowers only to Miami and trucked them out to Southern California.

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