The Yakima Herald-Republic’s Ross Courtney visited Sea-Tac airport to watch cherries from the Yakima and Wenatchee areas get loaded for fast delivery aboard a China Eastern Airlines 777 cargo plane.
Cherries sure mean a lot of work at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, just like they do in the Yakima Valley.
The number of international cargo flights — carrying everything from U.S. seafood to computer chips to customers around the globe — doubles each June and July.
“All because of cherries,” said Tom Green, senior manager for air cargo operations and development for Sea-Tac airport.
Our tender fruit, sometimes given away in Yakima Valley office lunchrooms and neighborhood picnics, fetches up to $10 per pound from affluent Asian shoppers who consider it a luxurious delicacy and a perfect fit for their gift-giving culture.
To meet that sophisticated demand, airlines reroute their cargo planes to Sea-Tac’s ramps and haul the cherries in 100-ton loads to Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and — for the first time this year — Shanghai on what have been nicknamed “Cherry Charters.”