Atlas Air charter flights help keep NCA flying

Atlas Air has flown several charter flights for Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) to help the carrier maintain schedules as its freighter fleet continues to be grounded while maintenance record checks are carried out.
Speaking during an investor day event, executive vice president and chief commercial officer Michael Steen explained that the lessor flies two aircraft for Nippon Cargo, which continued operations as they flew under Atlas traffic rights and are governed under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintenance programme.
The aircraft owner has also flown several charter flights for NCA over the last couple of weeks to “support them to uphold the scheduled network they have in Asia and in the US”.
NCA took the step of laying up its freighter fleet of 11 aircraft earlier this month after government inspectors identified an “inappropriate maintenance record”.
Initially, the airline hoped it would have only had to lay up its fleet for a week while it carried out an inspection of aircraft records.
However, on June 22, NCA said that it would be more than another week until the first aircraft could resume operations, with the rest following in sequence.
Meanwhile, Bill Flynn, president and chief executive of Atlas Air Worldwide, gave his thoughts on the recent tariff announcements, saying that at the moment it was too early to say how much of an impact they will have on the industry in the long term.
He said: “The first wave of tariffs on steel and aluminium are not direct airfreight type products, but if that were a sustained situation and metals went up [in price] substantially, I guess we would feel it over time in aircraft costs and things of that nature, but that one is hard to quantify.
“The Chinese response, looking at some of the products that China imports, there were initially some concerns about a small part of our charter business – cherries and other stone fruit that are exported seasonally to China – but that is a small market, a three or four week charter market, not very big.
“We, like everyone else that is trying to understand trade and how these things will play out, are still trying to understand what that may mean longer term or even the tit for tat, and someone said we are in the tat stage for now, and how that plays out, I think it is still too early for us to predict.”
Flynn added that the tariffs did not seem to be having any impact on the current peak season, with no indication from customers that they are looking to reduce capacity for the period.
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