TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Japanese carmakers including Honda Motor Co. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. are shipping some auto parts to the U.S. by air to bypass a labor dispute at West Coast ports that is delaying deliveries.
Honda and the maker of Subaru cars started the airlifts late last month on concern that stalled talks between dockworkers and ship operators could slow deliveries enough to hurt production, the carmakers said today.
Union-led work slowdowns could shut the U.S. West Coast’s 29 ports in five to 10 days, the head of the shippers’ association said, urging the union to accept a new offer that includes 3 percent raises. Toyota has halted overtime work at some plants in North America because of the delays and will monitor the situation, said Kayo Doi, a spokeswoman for the carmaker. She declined to comment on whether Toyota will ship parts by air.
Fuji Heavy, which raised its full-year profit forecast Wednesday, said the switch to air delivery for parts may increase costs by 7 billion yen ($60 million) per month, said Mitsuru Takahashi, chief financial officer of Subaru.
Honda’s production in the U.S. hasn’t been affected by the labor dispute, said Atsushi Ohara, a company spokesman. He declined to comment on how much shipping costs will increase because of the shift to planes.
James McKenna, the president of the Pacific Maritime Association, said backups and delays at many of the ports are harming farmers, manufacturers and consumers as the flow of goods approaches a “coast-wide meltdown.” He called on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to accept management’s second formal contract proposal since negotiations began last May.
The slowdown at West Coast ports has affected other importers in Japan as well.
McDonald’s Japan has said it airlifted more than 1,000 tons of French fries and imported some via ports on the U.S. East Coast to cope with shortages caused by the West Coast labor dispute.