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Costly losses for wildflower trade

WA wildflower exporters are hoping to recover the lost ground caused to their industry by the terrorist attacks on the US.

In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, air travel throughout the US was suspended. This also affected flights into Canada because the key hub of Honolulu was shut.

This caused about two weeks of wildflower production to be lost because the goods could not be sent to their destination.

Wildflower Export Council president Peter Brooks said the lost produce would be worth about $400,000 to Australian growers.

About 25 per cent of Australia’s wildflower exports go to North America.

Air Freight Export Council chief executive officer Warren Evans said most exporters took the option of using sea freight to transport their goods to the US while the flights were grounded.

“But perishable cargo such as wildflowers can’t handle a sea voyage,” he said.

WA Flower Exporters’ Craig Musson said flower growers had a difficult period while the flights were grounded.

“We’re recovering now. I think we’re through the worst of it,” Mr Musson said.

“The problem was with the shipments that had landed or were in transit. They couldn’t get any further.”

But sales to other wildflower export markets, such as Europe and Asia, have continued uninterrupted.

Mr Evans said despite the US slowdown, air freight out of WA was flowing smoothly.

There is little intra-state air cargo so the loss of Ansett has not made much of an impact. It only had about 40 per cent of the inter-state trade.

Qantas has picked up half of that and the remainder is being taken by road transport.

“From a dollar value view point, overseas exports are still being handled well,” Mr Evans said. “The wheels are still turning. A lot of people in the air freight export game are bending over backwards to help their customers.”

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