ANA Heads for Cargo JV Across the Other Side. 

It’s not that long ago that Japan’s mighty All Nippon Airways (ANA), with a fleet of almost 200 aircraft signed a historic deal with Lufthansa Cargo and created the first Japanese - German air cargo joint venture.
Now the carrier has taken this a step further by hooking up with United Airlines and is currently seeking antitrust permission to form a transpacific cargo joint venture with the U.S. carrier.

ANA Cargo operates ten Boeing 767 freighters  /  source: Boeing
ANA Cargo operates ten Boeing 767 freighters / source: Boeing

All three, LH, ANA and United are members of the Star Alliance Group which until now has been concentrating solely on optimizing passenger routes within this alliance which is made up of a total of 27 carriers ranging from Adria Airways in Europe to United in the USA.

Cargo Star Alliance?
The recent LH/ANA cargo alliance was one which was long in the planning and which is hoped will give both carriers better access and load factors on the much fought Europe to Japan and v.v. sectors.
So, what better way to expand this by ANA joining up with United on routes across the Pacific?
This would almost give a virtual Star Alliance cargo round-the-world product.
It could be assumed that the North Atlantic and South American sectors would somehow be fed into this JV in the near future.

All Nippon filed its antitrust application to Japan’s ministry of transport on November 21,  stating that it was their (joint) aim to create a more efficient and comprehensive transpacific cargo network.
This would in essence entail a joint transpacific cargo operation between both carriers which would include scheduling, sales and pricing issues.

Will antitrust be a stumbling block?
The question still remains however as to whether the Japanese and American authorities will give clearance for this form of alliance and as to whether other carriers on this hard fought sector will do all possible to block the move.
If agreed to, then this would indeed be the first of its kind between Asia and the U.S. and is seen both carriers as a means of delivering substantial service benefits which would enable the “new partners” to compete effectively with other carriers.
The agreement signed in September of this year on the Europe/Japan sector between ANA and LH passed all necessary EU antitrust regulations and permission was given quite quickly.
Whether this will be the case on the U.S. side, remains to be seen.
There will be considerable lobbying from carriers in the USA to either stop or slow down the application process.

Cargo alliances are, compared to passenger ones, few and far between.
The attempt to set up the WOW cargo alliance some years ago fell apart due to carriers not being able to agree on internal processes and so on.
It seems however that Lufthansa, All Nippon and United have done their homework well on this one and are intent on getting a real “Cargo Alliance” up and running and having it make money for all concerned.
We’ll probably see more of these plans in the near future as there are still another 24 carriers in the Star Alliance, many of which have the same potential for being included in an extended Star Cargo Alliance.

It’s interesting to note that ANA has recently set up a revamped ANA Cargo business unit with the aim of coordinating all its cargo activities and its fleet of ten Boeing 767 freighters from its cargo hub which is not in Tokyo, but strategically placed in Okinawa.

John Mc Donagh

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