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Etihad Cargo is to provide US forwarder Trinity Logistics with a weekly widebody service from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Columbus, Ohio – and then on to the UK’s East Midlands Airport.
The deal follows a trial over the summer involving several charter flights which operated successfully and led to the “multimillion-dollar” deal.
New York-based Trinity specialises in fashion logistics, and the flights will serve “big box retailers” in the US from garment manufacturers in Sri Lanka.
The forwarder said the flights would also “support the company’s US export growth to Europe, the Middle East and Asia”.
Etihad Cargo has four A330Fs, five 777Fs and a 747-8F on wet-lease from Atlas Air. The airline said it would use 777Fs and the 747-8F on the route.
“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,” said head of cargo David Kerr.
Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus has a foreign-trade zone which ranked top in the US for textile and footwear imports in 2015. The zone provides tax benefits to importers and, in 2015, saw more than $7.8bn of goods move through it, up 37% on the year before. Textiles and footwear accounted for $6.2bn-worth.
The city has access to more markets within a 10-hour drive than any other major city in the US and is home to retailers such as L Brands and Abercrombie & Fitch.
“We select our global carrier partners based on their ability to understand the business of our clients,” said Trnity Logistics president David Pererira.
“Etihad Cargo not only displayed knowledge, but understood the value of creating a sustainable product to a very important cargo zip code in United States. We expect our clients to benefit greatly from this game-changing solution that guarantees them speed and predictability.”
Sri Lanka, which has become a popular manufacturing centre for ethical brands, saw apparel exports exceed $4.5bn in 2015, 40% of the country’s total exports. Retailers using the country include Victoria’s Secret, GAP, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Speedo and Abercrombie & Fitch.