Ecuador takes hit from Hurricane Irma as exports and travelers are stranded at airports
Ecuador’s exporters of flowers and seafood say they expect to lose millions of dollars because of cancellation of flights to Miami and Fort Lauderdale due to Hurricane Irma. Tourist agencies will also be affected as travelers are unable to fly out of south Florida.
Irma is expected to slam into Florida late Saturday or early Sunday.
According to air freight carrier Tabacarcen, about 70% of Ecuador cut roses and other flowers pass through Miami International Airport. The carrier suspended deliveries early Thursday, saying disruptions caused by the storm made it impossible to get flowers to their final destinations even though some flights were operating. As of Friday night, all flights in and out of Miami will be cancelled.
Santiago Gomez, general manager of Tabacarcen, said that as many as 100,000 boxes of roses could be lost due to the delay. He said shipments would resume on Tuesday, pending the resumption of flights.
In all, flower exporters say they face $15 million to $20 million in losses.
Tabacarcen also reported that shipments of seafood have also been temporarily suspended. It says about 50% of shrimp and fish shipments to the U.S. route through Miami.
In additions to export and import losses, thousands of travelers between Ecuador and the U.S. will not be able to connect to their destinations. All American Airline and JetBlue flights between Florida and Ecuador are cancelled effective Friday, affecting the Ecuadorian tourism industry.
Quito International Airport spokesman Carlos Miller said that the closure of south Florida airports cause major disruptions for Ecuadorian businesses and travelers. “Miami is the major transportation hub for all of Latin American, for both people and products, so Hurricane Irma causes a ripple effect throughout the region. We are told that operations will return to normal next Tuesday or Wednesday, but this depends on the impact of the storm.”