Japan Airlines is reportedly in talks with third-party operators over the supply of freight capacity, the carrier's executive officer for cargo and mail has revealed.
In an interview with Asia Cargo News, JAL's executive officer of cargo and mail, Hiroo Iwakoshi said that the carrier's decision in 2010 to terminate all its B747 and B767 freighter flights as part of its recovery from bankruptcy, presented the carrier with "challenges" that it still faces today.
“After we suspended freighter operations, we lost some market share in China and the U.S., for example,” Iwakoshi said. “We need to expand our capacity on these routes, but unfortunately our
business now relies on passenger aircraft only, so now we’re negotiating with other airlines, either ACMI carriers or traditional airlines, for additional space on those routes.”
No freighter acquisition before 2020
To mitigate its capacity constraints, Iwakoshi said the Japanese government has now approved cargo charters, so JAL Cargo can hire and use freighters from ACMI operators to address any surge in demand on a particular route.
“This peak season, for example, we operated nine charters between Kansai and Chicago using Western Global Airlines,” he says. “That has been quite successful but I’m not sure how it will be in the long term.”
Japan Airlines currently has 18 Airbus A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s on order, as well as more Boeing 787-8s and 787-9s. There are no plans to acquire freighters until at least 2020.
While Narita Airport is still JAL’s primary international departure origin and is where most forwarders have their own warehouse facilities, Haneda is also home to a substantial JAL operation. Apart from domestic services, the airline flies from Haneda to Bangkok, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Singapore. Belly-hold cargo on these flights are built up at Narita and then trucked to Haneda.
Japanese cargo bonanza continues
Japan's dedicated freighter market is currently split between JAL's rival All Nippon Airways, which operates seven B767-300 freighters and four B767-300 (ERFs), and Nippon Cargo Airlines, which operates a fleet of three B747-400Fs and eight B747-8Fs.
In general, Japan's air cargo trade is expected to expand by nearly 10% for the second straight year, according to a report by Nittsu Research Institute and Consulting Inc., which has revised upward its forecast for Japan’s air cargo trade growth in fiscal year 2017 to 9.2% and 2.4 million metric tonnes. Official figures will be released shortly.
Nol van Fenema
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