After Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) temporarily grounded its eleven 747-Fs due to a maintenance record discrepancy over the weekend, the forwarding community is saying the halt in air service may be longer than the Narita-based carrier’s initial estimate.
Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau is scheduling an inspection of NCA’s entire fleet after finding that the carrier has been keeping inaccurate maintenance records. A statement from the airline from June 16 originally said the audit would last “about one week” before the three 747-400F and eight 747-8F aircraft would begin operation again.
Bob Imbriani, executive vice president at logistics company Team Worldwide, who has clients that operate in the trans-Pacific zone, told Air Cargo World that this estimate may be a bit too optimistic. “Getting them back into rotation – we anticipate it’s probably going to be as much as two to three weeks,” he said. “That all takes a little bit of time, assuming there’s nothing that’s going to ground them longer.”
Mike Piza, vice president at Apex Logistics International had a similar take on the situation, saying that “if the inspections can be approved and the aircraft are deemed safe within a 7-10 day period, I don’t think there will be that much disruption,” but added, “I think if it goes longer than that, it’ll have a strong impact.” Piza says if there is no update from the airline by Monday, Apex Logistics will be ready for the latter.
Imbriani added that Team Worldwide heard about the news in advance and was able to prepare for the reduction in cargo capacity, but said he anticipates that other logistics companies and carriers “are going to be re-routing.”
Regardless of the results of the audit, the best-case scenario of a one-week suspension period for 11 freighters is enough to cause a major disruption in the supply chain between the two regions. As of now, it’s anyone’s guess how much this significant reduction in capacity will affect deliveries or what the results of the audit will be. We are interested to see how associative parties adjust their strategies in the meantime.