Japan: Nippon Cargo pulls out of Beijing

Nippon Cargo Airlines is suspending its freighter service to Beijing indefinitely after earlier indicating that the suspension would only last for the duration of the Olympics. The service has operated from Tokyo via Seoul to the Chinese capital, using a B747-400 freighter aircraft. Shawn McWhorter, president of NCA Americas, said that the decision was made […]


Nippon Cargo Airlines is suspending its freighter service to Beijing indefinitely after earlier indicating that the suspension would only last for the duration of the Olympics. The service has operated from Tokyo via Seoul to the Chinese capital, using a B747-400 freighter aircraft.

Shawn McWhorter, president of NCA Americas, said that the decision was made on the strength of the air cargo market in Beijing. “Shanghai continues to be strong for us, but Beijing is not strong enough a market to support a flight of its own. We were hoping that the market would be stronger, but we were struggling to fill the plane. Shanghai is the only market in China at the moment to consistently fill a plane,” he said.

Last year, Beijing ranked 20th in the global cargo airport hierarchy, according to statistics from the Airports Council International. Its air freight throughput grew 15.8 per cent in 2007 to reach 1.19 million tonnes. Guangzhou, which ranked 30th in the world, saw 6.4 per cent growth to 694,923 tonnes, while Shenzhen’s tonnage increased 10.1 per cent to 616,058 tonnes to make the airport number 33 on the global airport list. Shanghai was the world’s fifth-busiest cargo gateway in 2007 with its tonnage growing 15.5 per cent to 2.49 million tonnes.

If operators find it hard to fill a regular 747 freighter out of Beijing, the development of Tianjin as a cargo gateway may further undermine the ability of Beijing to sustain large freighter operations, pointed out McWhorter. “I don’t know how Korean can make it in Tianjin,” he added.