Nippon Cargo Airlines to revamp network to tap sourcing switch

NIPPON Cargo Airlines (NCA) plans to add service to Taipei next year to meet demand, spurred in part by the movement of sourcing away from China to other parts of Asia

29 December 2019 - 19:00

NIPPON Cargo Airlines (NCA) plans to add service to Taipei next year to meet demand, spurred in part by the movement of sourcing away from China to other parts of Asia.

NCA Americas president Shawn McWhorter noted that traffic out of China has fallen markedly. This has taken a heavy toll on the airline's eastbound loads moving across the Pacific, London's Loadstar reported.

'Transpacific demand from Asia is way down,' said Mr McWhorter. 'This peak season has not been a great one for us. Inbound. it's been a struggle, because there's not enough out of China.'

This has affected NCA's latest route. In October, the airline commenced a weekly freighter run from Tokyo via Shanghai to Chicago, using fifth freedom rights. This routing cuts 12 hours off the transit time from its previous route of Shanghai via Narita to Chicago.

However, demand has been disappointing, prompting the airline to drop a couple of the flights.

The airline's eight 747-8 freighters have been back in service since the start of the summer schedule, following their forced hiatus after Japanese officials had discovered maintenance record discrepancies.

Across the Pacific, NCA uses 747-8s chiefly on its routes to Chicago and Los Angeles. The 747-400 freighters are deployed on routes serving San Francisco, New York and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).

All five of NCA's -400s have been transferred to Atlas Air, which operates them (or corresponding aircraft) for the Asian carrier. The last one was shifted over in September.

Mr McWhorter said that US export traffic across the Pacific had been relatively steady for NCA, and he is looking to tap into perishables flows from Latin America to Asia.

'We're talking to Avianca about connecting up with us,' he said. The Latin American airline launched twice-weekly flights between Bogota and DFW in early October with an A330-200 freighter.

Another market Mr McWhorter is looking to strengthen in 2020 is Canadian exports out of Edmonton. NCA has routed some of its westbound flights from the US through the Canadian airport to collect meat and other perishables as well as oil and gas traffic destined for Asia.

'We probably fly there twice a month. We'll see next year if we can make it a steadier operation,' he said.

One airport disappearing from NCA's schedule this year is Frankfurt Hahn, which has been a stop on the carrier's round-the-world operation from Tokyo over Anchorage to Chicago, returning to Asia via the German airport and Milan. In the new year, the freighter will turn around in Chicago and head back to Asia across the Pacific.

To achieve better control over cargo on the ground, NCA is doing its own handling at Chicago and Los Angeles. In January, the airline will roll out a new warehouse management system at these stations, and among its features is a dock management module and functionality that allows truckers to check themselves in.


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