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Smoking flight.

Lufthansa Cargo has begun marketing capacities on Eurowings flights. Good news for cigar aficionados.

The epicenter of the country’s cigar production is the provincial capital Santiago de los Caballeros. Many of the factories based here still mainly produce cigars by hand, without the need for machines, with highly skilled “Torcedors” rolling up to 500 cigars a day. The cigars are transported by truck along dirt tracks from the factories in Santiago de los Caballeros to Puerto Plata, some 70 kilometers away on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Once they reach the Gregorio Luperón International Airport, the Lufthansa Cargo team prepares the freight, characteristically packed in wooden cigar boxes, for its journey across the Atlantic. “Cigars are a very sensitive natural product. They have to arrive at their destination quickly and safely. That is why we airfreight them as Safe/td2 consignments,” says Manoj Nair. Every Saturday and Tuesday, a Eurowings Airbus A330 takes off from Puerto Plata for a 7,500-kilometer and nine-and-half-hour journey across the pond to Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN).

As luxury items, cigars are subject to customs and excise duties, which is why they must be presented to the customs authorities on arrival. As soon as the cargo and documents have been scrupulously checked and verified, the wooden boxes from Santiago de los Caballeros are transported by truck to the Lufthansa Cargo Freight Center at Frankfurt am Main airport. The cigars are then flown 1,200 kilo­meters to Riga (RIX) in the belly of a Lufthansa Airbus A320 passenger aircraft, where the fine distribution of the cigars to the humidors of the wholesalers begins. Only then does this valuable commodity end up in the hands of aficionados where it literally goes up in smoke.



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Smoking cigars is considered to be the oldest form of consuming tobacco. Even ancient civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayas enjoyed a primitive form of cigar made from twisted, dried tobacco leaves. But it is Christopher Columbus as the discoverer of the New World in 1492 who is credited with introducing tobacco to Europe. The Dominican Republic, popular vacation destination for sun worshippers, is now the world’s largest exporter of cigars. Twice weekly the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings flies vacationers from Cologne Bonn Airport to the island’s beach resorts in Puerto Plata (POP) and Punta Cana (PUJ). On the return leg to Germany, the airline’s cargo holds are filled not only with tourists’ luggage but also with exclusive premium cigars produced by manufacturers based in the Caribbean state.

The history of Dominican cigars officially began in 1902 when the first cigar factory was established on the Dominican side of the island of Hispaniola. This development was triggered by an influx of exiled Cubans who began cultivating tobacco grown from Cuban seedlings. Initially, they only produced filler tobaccos and used binder leaves from Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico. The outermost layer, or wrapper tobacco, came from the US or Cameroon. Nowadays, though, the Dominican Republic is also known for producing excellent wrapper tobacco.

"The best fields for cultivating tobacco are in the Cibao Valley, in the north-west of the country. The soil here is particularly fertile as it is fed by the Yaque del Norte River, which runs westward through the region up to the central province of La Vega,” says Manoj Nair, Regional Manager Dominican Republic at Lufthansa Cargo.




Dreamstime, Vuvuk / Fotolia, Shock

planet 02/2016