Nippon Cargo Airlines: From the sea to the open sky

Since its inception, Nippon Air Cargo Lines (NAC), now Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) has always prided itself on being able to turn adversity into opportunities. The brainchild of ocean shipping companies and airlines, the carrier has its foundations firmly rooted in the rich expertise of both sea and air cargo. Payload Asia speaks to the first cargo airline from Japan.


Ichiro Watanabe NCA Nippon Cargo Airlines


In the early days there wasn’t much need for a standalone air cargo entity in Japan. The shipping companies were able to meet all the demands to bring the necessary cargo into the country. However, this all changed in the 1960’s, with the introduction of passenger aircraft that could stow away small amounts of cargo under the floors, boosting the air cargo industry the world over.

 

As with the rest of the world, the Japanese ocean shipping industry took notice and had a keen interest in establishing a more comprehensive cargo system that linked both the sea and sky in Japan. In a mere five years, the amount of cargo carried to and from Japan increased by almost 30,000 tons, further highlighting the industry’s potential.

 

Thus began plans to create what is now known as Nippon Cargo Airline’s (NCA), the first cargo airline in Japan.

 

Resilience in the face of adversity

Seven years after its establishment and inaugural flight, NCA found itself operating in what quickly became a stagnant market. There was a sudden rapid decline in demand for cargo, mainly caused by the recession in the United States of America.

 

Differentiation is a strategy long employed by NCA to meet customer needs, turning negatives into positives. The carrier adopted a company-wide sales strategy to engage forwarders more aggressively and increase customer relationship development. With its flights heading to America leaving Narita International Airport (Narita: NRT) at 8:30 pm, compared to most that departed at 10:30 pm, NCA was able to offer customers earlier arrival, which also meant a higher possibility of same day customs clearance and earlier delivery. “We deliver faster than the competition.” Complemented by the increase in time and attention paid to each shipment resulting from the low volumes, the carrier was able to build a higher degree of trust with its customers.