Nippon Cargo Airlines stopped flying to Kennedy International Airport in August, and now serves the New York market with trucks running between JFK and Chicago.
Japan Airlines cut back its freighter service to New York from five flights a week to four from late October and will drop its all-cargo service to New York completely at the end of the year. Like NCA, it will maintain freighter service to Chicago, but cut its frequency there from six flights a week to five late last month.
Los Angeles is the only other US market where JAL will continue tooffer freighter service, but it will slice frequency there from six flights a weekto five at the end of this year.
“The airline is currently facing a tough environment, particularly in terms of its North American freighter business,” JAL said in a statement announcing the cutbacks.
JAL said it would off er cargo service to and from New York by using belly space on its 14 weekly passenger flights on the Tokyo-New York route, and by using feeder trucks to and from Chicago.
The elimination of JAL’s freighter service to New York will be offset to some extent by increased capacity on its passenger flights, which received a boost when the carrier started using B777s on one of its two daily flights in August.
The 777s can carry 20 to 25 tons (18 to 22.6 tonnes) of cargo on flights between New York and Tokyo, compared with only about seven or eight tons on 747-400 passenger planes, depending on baggage loads and fuel requirements. Flights from Asia require less fuel because of tailwinds blowing east.
NCA was operating five 747-400 freighter flights a week to New York. All of those flights also stopped in Chicago. The carrier increased its Chicago frequency to daily when it dropped its service to New York.
“It’s a function of economics,” said Shawn McWhorter, president of NCA Americas. “The market doesn’t support the extra flying you have to go to the East Coast. With fuel where it is, it doesn’t make sense for us.”
McWhorter said the additional three hours flying nonstop between Tokyo and New York costs $25,000 to $30,000 more per roundtrip for fuel compared to roundtrip flights to Chicago.
JAL also announced that it would retire its two remaining 747-200 freighter aircraft by the end of November. In addition, the airline is dropping plans to convert one of its 747-400 passenger aircraft into a freighter.
That will reduce JAL’s freighter fleet to 10 aircraft â€” seven 747-400s, which have a cargo capacity of about 100 tons on trans-continental flights, and three 767s, which can carry about 50 tons. The carrier deploys the 767s in its Asia markets, where business has been growing.
Other than the two Japanese carriers, many of the major Asian air cargo carriers all maintain direct flights to New York. These include Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, Air China, China Airlines,EVA Airways and Cathay Pacific.