NCA says it will be at least ‘more than another week’ before 747-Fs are back in the sky

Today, Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) released a statement saying its 747 freighter fleet will remain on the ground for another week, following last week’s news that the carrier would undergo an immediate government audit, pausing its 11 freighters from running services on its trans-Pacific routes due to the discovery of discrepancies in the airline’s maintenance records.

The incidents of concern included a bird strike that occurred in January, which was recorded as a minor repair instead of a major repair, as well as the lubricating oil supply to the aircraft parts in April.

The initial statement from the airline indicated that the process would take about one week, but in today’s update, the airline said it “will not restart the network until [it] can conclude the record checking process,” and that “the first aircraft will resume operation in more than another week.” So, it’s safe to assume that the fleet will be out for the rest of June, if not longer.

This week, Air Cargo World talked to logistics companies and forwarders that utilize NCA’s capacity, who indicated that while the issue was a concern, they didn’t expect to see significant effects if the audit was kept to about one week in length. Today’s news means that industry members that depend on the capacity will have to consider new strategies for meeting shippers’ demands.

With the start of cherry season between the U.S. Pacific Northwest and China just around the corner, this continued reduction in trans-Pacific freighter capacity is enough to worry certain shippers and forwarders about how they will meet demand for the transportation of the high-demand perishable fruit.

Brandon Fried, executive director of the U.S. Airforwarders Association, told Air Cargo World that there will likely be an impact on capacity caused by the continued grounding of NCA’s freighters, especially for forwarders serving shippers that hope to avoid the impact of looming tariffs that commence on July 6. “Other carriers may be able to absorb the capacity loss, but the law of supply and demand will be in effect, probably seen through pricing volatility and longer delivery times,” he said.

“Hopefully, carriers will view this situation as a short-term issue and will show courtesy to their long-term forwarder customers,” Fried added.

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