Shawn McWhorter, Nippon Cargo Airlines’ president for the Americas, told Air Cargo World that NCA is eying joint ventures or leasing agreements for its grounded
Boeing 747-400Fs, which have been replaced by 747-8Fs. Besides avoiding expensive parking or mothballing costs of sidelined cargo aircraft, he said this would enable NCA to push into new markets.
“We are looking to expand without touching Japan,” McWhorter said. “There are parts of the world that have nothing to do with Japan.” Even so, he ruled out a Chinese joint venture cargo airline along the lines of the now-defunct Jade Cargo International or Great Wall all-freight carriers.
McWhorter also nixed any fleet expansion plans in the foreseeable future. As a result of challenging market conditions, NCA will systematically replace its 747-400 aircraft with the 747-8Fs it began acquiring this summer. The carrier’s first 747-8F has been deployed on its Tokyo-Los Angeles-San Francisco-Tokyo route.
Still, this constitutes a double-digit rise in lift, McWhorter pointed out. “Every -8 [comes with] 15-percent more capacity,” he said. “By the end of 2015, we will have an all-747-8 fleet.”
This spring, NCA embarked on the second stage of its long-term strategic plan, which is about growth, according to McWhorter. “The first phase is finished. That was about right-sizing the infrastructure, which had been built for a 20-airplane fleet,” he said.
Besides cutting back, another key objective is achieving greater flexibility in order to hone NCA’s ability to take on charter service around its scheduled operations. “We were not able to respond to demand,” McWhorter told Air Cargo World. The airline is in the process of setting up charter teams to develop this business and intends to unveil a new feature on its website soon that will help customers send in their charter requirements.
“There is still growth, but it is uneven,” McWhorter said. “We will be taking charters to Africa, to Brazil and to China.”
A key plank in the push for greater flexibility is decentralizing the carrier’s corporate structure and decision-making, he said. Instead, NCA has been investing in regional management with greater powers.