VALLEY STREAM, NY: October 12, 2016. Etihad Cargo has signed a $20 million contract with fashion forwarder Trinity Logistics to operate a weekly B747 or B777 freighter service from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Rickenbacker airport, Ohio with a return via East Midlands airport, UK.
The deal follows several charter flights by Etihad Cargo this summer and is designed to deliver the latest fashion from Sri Lanka for big box retailers in the U.S. in support of the country's clothing industry.
According to the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, apparel exports exceeded US$4.5 billion last year, representing 40 percent of the country's total exports.
Victoria's Secret, GAP, Nike, M&S, Tommy Hilfiger, Speedo and Abercrombie & Fitch manufacture in Sri Lanka due to the country's support of ethical business practices and the absence of child or forced labor.
This month Vietnam was added to a U.S. Department of Labor list banning the export of textiles to the U.S. due to the use of child labor.
Many of the Sri Lanka's factories are also Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum and Gold certified – an international program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.
"Through our partnership, Etihad Cargo and Trinity Logistics are committed to facilitating this important trade," said Etihad Cargo senior vice president David Kerr. "The flexibility our freighter fleet affords us means we are well placed to serve the fashion industry which is so reliant on a responsive supply chain," he added.
With increasing competition expected from Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Sri Lanka has moved to specialize in up-market casualwear and lingerie that has led to an increase in unit value exports.
According to a report by the Oxford Business Group "it is also about speed", citing Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, managing director and CEO of Textured Jersey Lanka. "Brands are now moving towards fast and reactive fashion models. Where lead times were six months a few years ago, they are now six weeks. This makes supply chains much more compressed, and hence the challenge to be nimble," she said.
Trinity Logistics president David Pereira confirmed this trend, adding: "We select our global carrier partners based on their ability to understand the business of our clients. With Etihad Cargo, they not only displayed knowledge, but [understand] the value of creating a sustainable product to a very important cargo zip code in the United States. We expect our clients to benefit greatly from this game-changing solution that guarantees them speed and predictability."