By Cheranka Mendis
Global carrier Emirates last week expressed confidence that the air cargo business to and out of Sri Lanka would grow in tandem with post-war rebound.
“We are very optimistic about the country. We are anticipating growth and we are confident that within the next few years Sri Lanka will grow by leaps and bounds. The country has got the ingredients and recipes right; it’s now just a matter of time,” Emirates Regional Manager Cargo Commercial Operations Asia and Australasia Ravishankar Mirle told Daily FT in an interview in Dubai.
Being the number one perishable carrier in Sri Lanka, Emirates operates 28 weekly flights of passenger and cargo from Colombo and accounts for 20% market share of air cargo.
Sri Lanka’s contribution to the entire network is 2% with bigger networks being China, Hong Kong and India.
Emirates hauls out 16,000 tonnes of goods per month from Sri Lanka and hauls another 300 tonnes into the country. Among the goods that leave the country are apparel, live plants, foliage, fruits and vegetables and tuna.
Previously the cargo from Sri Lanka consisted 60% garments and 40% perishable goods but had now switched places, with perishable goods taking up 80% of the total volume while garments and textile only take 20%.
“Sri Lanka is the number one producer of high fashion in the region. This works as an advantage for Sri Lanka even though the low fashion industry is seen to be taking a back step during the past few years,” Mirle said.
He asserted that the low fashion industry had been losing the competitive advantage to Bangladesh over the years, with the latter concentrating more on the mass market. The high fashion industry which caters to a niche market brings in larger revenue and has more value addition than what is manufactured for the mass market.
With apparel for leading international brand names such as Marks & Spencer, Gap, Polo and so on being manufactured in Sri Lanka, Emirates Cargo hauls in large numbers distributing them to Europe, especially the UK.
“What is important in the fashion industry, particularly the high fashion segment Sri Lanka has claims for, is the time to market. Products must be on time as the fashion industry is bound to change within shorter periods of time. Right now, however, there is less lead time since main importers of Sri Lankan garments (such as UK and USA) only place orders in smaller volumes.”
Emirates SkyCargo to launch Basra Flights
Emirates SkyCargo is to launch flights to Basra on Wednesday, 2 February.
The service will operate in a three-class configuration – First Class, Business Class and Economy Class – on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and in a two-class configuration – Business Class and Economy Class – on Mondays.
EK945 will depart Dubai at 13:45 and touch down at Basra International Airport at 14:45 the same day. At 16:15, return flight EK 946 will depart Basra touching down in Dubai at 19:10.
As Iraq’s recovery gathers pace following a period of sustained investment by major global corporations, Emirates SkyCargo will be transporting 130 tonnes of freight per week between Dubai and Iraq’s largest port, strategically located close to key oil fields.
In addition to transporting equipment for oil and petroleum companies in the belly-hold of an Airbus A330-200, it expects to carry a diverse range of goods from all corners of the globe, including perishable foodstuffs, medical products, car parts, garments, textiles and various electronic items such as mobile phones.
The passenger aircraft, operating four times a week, will also serve the Iraqi diaspora, while goods travelling in the other direction - to the likes of the United States, USA, China, India and the UK - will include petroleum products, grains, wool and dates.
“With many multinational companies committed to the redevelopment of Iraq’s economy and infrastructure, the trading potential is very clear,” said Ram Menen, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo.
“Iraq’s recovery is already well under way and this new trade route will create further opportunity for growth, with businesses now able to establish trade links with the UAE and the other 65 countries on our global network.”
Basra will be the first route to be added to the Emirates network in 2011, becoming the airline’s 110th international destination. Geneva and Copenhagen will follow on 1 June and 1 August respectively and as the airline’s fleet of 152 aircraft grows after the delivery of several of the 200 aircraft it has on order, further route announcements are expected.