Sea-Tac welcomes Cherry Express as exports of cherries bloom

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China Cargo Boeing 777F 'Cherry Express' at Seattle Tacoma International Airport

The cherry season is in full bloom in Washington State, and the Port of Seattle welcomed a specially painted cherry themed Boeing 777 Freighter transporting the fruit to Asia.

The aircraft operated by China Cargo, a division of China Eastern Airlines landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on 24 July, which is expecting to export record volumes of cherries.

The five Pacific Northwest states have shipped 18,492,620 twenty-pound boxes of cherries up to 20 July, and the total international cherry volume exported from Sea-Tac was 40 million pounds, up 10 million on 2015 with a declared value of more than $115 million.

Port of Seattle commissioner, Stephanie Brown says: “We’re proud to support Washington farmers by providing facilities for the international freighter airplanes to deliver our state’s world-class cherries to global markets. This is just one more way the Port of Seattle connects our region to world and provides economic benefits across the state of Washington.”

Exports to Asia in July can be five times the amount of tonnage shipped on the most active airline at Sea-Tac, and other Asian airlines usually have volume increases of two to three times their normal monthly tonnage.

Around 220,000 pounds of cherries can be loaded into a Boeing 747-400 Freighter, one of the most common cargo aircraft at Sea-Tac, and the China Cargo 777F, nicknamed ‘Cherry Express’ can hold about 200,000 pounds.

The Northwest cherry harvest creates an estimated 19,000 jobs and had a local economic impact of about $540 million in 2016.

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.”

“About 30 per cent of the Northwest cherry crop was exported in 2016, the vast majority going to Asian countries. Consumers at home and abroad expect fresh and delicious Northwest cherries and we’re expecting 2017 is going to be another banner year.”