The Port of Seattle is gaining another air freighter carrier to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as Nippon Cargo Airlines began new seasonal Boeing 747-8 freighter service to Tokyo, Japan.
Nippon Cargo Airlines’ freighter will initially call on Sea-Tac four times in early summer to transport up to 134 metric tons per flight, primarily for Washington cherries, a highly anticipated product in Asia. More flights may follow during the Pacific Northwest cherry season, which typically extends through August.
Rapid growth in air cargo tonnage as evidenced by the new freighter services underscores the importance of two new airfield construction projects designed to improve cargo infrastructure at Sea-Tac.
Seattle air freight with Asia has reached record levels, surpassing 62,000 metric tons in 2013. In the first five months of 2014, air cargo with Asia increased 33 percent.
“Nippon Cargo Airlines’ freighter service to Tokyo is significant for our region and contributes to economic vitality through supporting job growth in agriculture, aviation and the supply chain industries,” said Port Air Cargo Manager Tom Green. “Sea-Tac’s air cargo service to Asia continues to expand rapidly, and we look forward to developing our relationship with Nippon Cargo Airlines as markets continue to flourish.”
Nippon Cargo Airlines, one of the first customers for the Boeing 747-8F, will serve Sea-Tac with the aircraft, reinforcing Sea-Tac’s need for expanded freighter parking ramps. The 747-8F has a longer wing span and fuselage and requires more ramp space to park, unload and load freight. A $20 million construction effort slated for completion at the end of the year is making two cargo parking stands longer and deeper to accommodate larger, and more frequent, freighter aircraft operations.
Nippon Cargo Airlines’ new service also marks the first time in ten years that a dedicated freighter aircraft will transport goods to Japan. Northwest Airlines, the last carrier to operate freighter service from Sea-Tac to Japan, stopped freighter operations in 2004. In the interim, companies have transported direct Japan-bound cargo in the belly of passenger aircraft, limiting the overall amount, and size, of freight.
The Port of Seattle Century Agenda has set the course for strategic objectives over the next 25 years including the generation of 100,000 new jobs and positioning the Puget Sound region as a premier international logistics hub. At Sea-Tac, goals include tripling of annual air cargo volume to 750,000 metric tons. Look for more information about how the region’s economic engine will keep powering King County’s economy for years to come.