ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Companies

Nippon Cargo Airlines grounds flights over maintenance issue

Japanese airfreight carrier's weeklong shutdown risks delays for chipmaking gear

An inaccurate servicing record prompted Nippon Cargo Airlines to suspend all flights for at least a week while it combs through its logs.
Nippon Cargo Airlines handles about 60 flights weekly between Narita Airport near Tokyo and hub cities in Asia, North America and Europe. 

TOKYO -- Nippon Cargo Airlines, Japan's sole dedicated airfreight carrier, began suspending all flights as of Saturday after errors were found in its aircraft maintenance records, sending customers scrambling for alternative transport options.

The subsidiary of marine shipping company Nippon Yusen grounded its fleet of 11 aircraft while it checks for other discrepancies in the logs. The investigation should take about a week, at a minimum, the carrier said Saturday. The suspension affects about 300 tons of cargo, or the equivalent carried by three jumbo jets.

Nippon Cargo Airlines ranks as Japan's second-largest airfreight company, behind ANA Holdings unit All Nippon Airways. It operates about 60 flights weekly to and from Narita Airport near Tokyo, serving mainly hub cities in Asia, North America and Europe. The company transports products that cannot travel on passenger flights, such as chipmaking equipment and cars.

Though airfreight tends to cost more than shipping by sea, it typically offers greater speed and allows for better oversight of cargo during transit. These advantages attract many companies, particularly those transporting precision machinery. Demand has grown in recent years, especially among businesses that produce parts in Asia and finished goods in the U.S.

The suspension of service by Nippon Cargo leaves freight brokers looking to marine shippers or other airlines to handle shipments that have some flexibility in the delivery date or are bound for nearby destinations.

But some worry that other flights cannot handle all of the load, noting that two- to three-week waits are already the norm for shipments from China. Logistics company Nippon Express, which is weighing options for its affected freight, called the impact of the suspension "non-negligible."

The inaccurate maintenance logs were discovered during inspections by Japan's transport ministry. It came to light last month that Nippon Cargo planes collided with birds in January 2017 and March 2018, requiring what the ministry deemed to be major repairs. The carrier's failure to report the incidents promptly led to the inspections.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends June 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media