Cherry season in full bloom from Seattle-Tacoma to Asia

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China Airlines Cargo loading Washington cherries at Sea-Tac, 6 June 2001

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is expecting a considerable increase in the number of freighters as the cherry season blooms.

July and August are busy months, particularly for cherries for the Asian market. In 2015, Sea-Tac handled 12,700 tonnes of cherries for export worth almost $85 million, and the airport is hoping for another big year in 2016.

The airport’s operator, the Port of Seattle says cherry exports to Asia can be up to five times higher in July than other months, and the most common freighter for transporting this product, the Boeing 747-400 can carry up to 220,000 pounds worth of the fruit.

Port of Seattle Commission president, John Creighton says: “With our expanded cargo facilities, we’re more than able to accommodate the increase of planes taking cherries to international destinations.

“We are proud to support jobs across the state by partnering with the Northwest Cherry Growers and our cargo carriers to bring the freshest Pacific Northwest cherries from Washington orchards to consumers across the globe.”

The Northwest cherry industry supports 19,000 jobs and Northwest Cherry Growers internal operations director, Keith Hu says: “Our growers and associated businesses depend on exports and Sea-Tac is a valued partner in our success.

“Nearly 31 per cent of the Northwest cherry crop was exported in 2015, the vast majority going to Asian countries. Consumers at home and abroad expect fresh and delicious Northwest cherries and we’re hopeful 2016 will be another banner year.”

In 2015, the Port of Seattle spent $23 million expanding two cargo areas to increase international trade and allow more capacity for larger freighter aircraft.

Cargo volumes surged by 1.7 per cent to 332,636 tonnes with international freight jumping 7.1 per cent to 115,357 tonnes. About $12.7 billion of airfreight is exported and $13.6 billion imported.