(Updated Jan. 13, 10 a.m. with commodity information)
Nippon Cargo Airlines will start twice weekly freighter service from Taipei later this quarter in response to customers requests, said Shawn McWhorter, president for the Americas, on Friday.
Flexport, the San Francisco-based freight forwarder whose special sauce is technology and artificial intelligence that helps coordinate international handoffs, will be the launch customer under a block space agreement, Neel Shah, executive vice president and global head of airfreight, confirmed.
Key commodities that will be shipped include consumer electronics, bikes and related accessories, computer hardware and cosmetics, he said.
The service is part of a larger diversification strategy in Southeast Asia Flexport unveiled the same day.
NCA owns eight Boeing 747-8 and five 747-400 freighters, which have been assigned to Atlas Air to operate on its behalf. Japan’s sole dedicated all-cargo carrier manages all sales, routes, and cargo operations, but outsources the 747-400 flying and maintenance after Japanese authorities grounded its fleet in mid-2018 for alleged failure to report bird strikes and keep accurate maintenance records. The second largest air cargo provider in Japan, after All Nippon Airways, said at the time it’s maintenance department was understaffed.
The NCA flights from Taipei will connect to Narita International Airport in Tokyo, where shipments will connect with freighters to Chicago, New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline has about 25 departures per week from Narita to the U.S.
In the two largest U.S. gateways, Los Angeles and Chicago, NCA has the benefit of operating from its own leased warehouse on airport property that is directly controlled and managed by NCA, instead of operating from a common-use warehouse with many other airlines.
McWhorther said the setup allows the airline to customize handling for customers to expedite recovery of import cargo, offer specialized breakdown services by shipper, provide dedicated trucking beyond the gateway, and even provide direct delivery of cargo to the forwarder.
“These types of special services eliminate typical problems that the traditional airline/forwarder have at airports, such as long queue time for trucks, lost or damaged cargo, backlogs, and delays,” he said via email.