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China Airlines suspends operations to BNA

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China Airlines suspends operations to BNA

Old 07-31-2009, 06:12 AM
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Default China Airlines suspends operations to BNA

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China Airlines suspends cargo flights to Nashville | tennessean.com | The Tennessean

China Airlines suspends cargo flights to Nashville Taiwan-based airline blames economy

By G. Chambers Williams III
THE TENNESSEAN

Taiwan-based China Airlines will end its six-day-a-week cargo flights into Nashville International Airport from Asia today, citing the sluggish global economy that has resulted in a drop in shipments from 93 tons daily last year to just 53 tons this year.

All five China Airlines jobs at the Nashville airport are to be cut because of the move, said Ron Pierce, the airline's Nashville marketing director. Two of the workers were airline officials from Taiwan who were reassigned.

But the other three were local employees, all of whom chose not to accept offers to transfer to other U.S. offices where the airline operates, including Pierce, who said he turned down a job in Miami to stay in Tennessee for family reasons.

China Airlines, which does not offer passenger service to Nashville, began freight service to the city from Taipei, Taiwan, in 2001 using Boeing 747 jets configured for cargo. Service started with one flight four days per week.

That increased to six days a week in 2002, and to seven days in July 2008. But the service was cut back to six days a week in October after the recession kicked in, decreasing the company's business, Pierce said. Although the airline had a variety of Nashville clients, its primary customer has been Dell Computer Corp., the airline said.
While the Dell business has declined, the decision to end direct service to Nashville was based on a drop in cargo from other customers that had helped fill the airplanes coming into and out of the city, Pierce said.

Another factor was a ban on the Taiwan airline shipping cargo directly to the United States from mainland China, "where most of the inbound freight is coming from now," Pierce said. While relations between Taiwan and China have moderated in recent years, some political obstacles between the two countries remain, with air service one of those.

"We can fly freight directly from the U.S. to China, but not from China to here," he said. "But the cargo mostly is coming from China, not going to China."

China Airlines' Nashville customers now will be served through the company's station at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, with trucks moving cargo between Nashville and Atlanta, Pierce said.

That arrangement is acceptable to Dell, spokesman Venancio Figueroa said from the computer maker's Round Rock, Texas, headquarters.

"If China Airlines elects to fly elsewhere and truck products into Nashville, it will be fine for us as long as they continue to meet our needs," he said.

The airline's announcement said it was "suspending" the Nashville flights, leaving open the possibility that service could resume if the economy picks up, said Monty Burgess, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority.

The airport will feel the loss, as China Airlines was "our primary cargo carrier, with 40 percent to 50 percent of the service here," Burgess said.

But cargo overall is less than 15 percent of the airport's business, with the bulk of operations related to passenger service here.

Other freight carriers, including United Parcel Service and Federal Express, could take over some of the China Airlines business, Burgess said.

"It's hard to say at this time, but usually when one pulls out, someone else slips in to pick up some of the void," he said.

Meanwhile, the loss of revenue from China Airlines could have an impact on the airport's budget until rates charged to the remaining Nashville airport carriers can be adjusted to make up the difference, he said.
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