Some Japanese automakers, such as Honda Motor and Fuji Heavy Industries – the parent company of Subaru – have decided to bypass a labor clash at West Coast ports by getting parts in the country by air.
Honda and Subaru’s owner began the air part deliveries late last month due to mounting concern that supplies could be delayed significantly – enough to handicap vehicle production – because of ongoing negotiations between dockworkers and ship operators. According to the leader of the shippers’ association the stalled talks could lead union-led worker walkouts to paralyze the US West Coast’s 29 ports in the next five to ten days. Toyota has already moved to end overtime work at some of its factories in the United States and North American region as the delays creep in. According to Mitsuru Takahashi, chief financial officer of Subaru, Fuji Heavy – fresh off raising its full-year profit prediction yesterday – could see additional costs from the airlifts amount to 7 billion yen ($60 million) each month.
According to Atsushi Ohara, a spokesperson for the Tokyo-based Honda, the company’s US output has not yet been affected by the labor clash and deferred from revealing if they will see additional costs from the plane shipments of auto parts. James McKenna, the president of the Pacific Maritime Association warned that slowdowns and delays at many of the west coast ports have affected farmers, manufacturers and consumers, with the flow of goods near a “coast-wide meltdown.”