Japanese carmakers, including Honda Motor Co. and Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries, are shipping some auto parts to the United States by air to bypass a labor dispute at West Coast ports that is delaying deliveries.
Honda and Fuji Heavy 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.
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, with the shutdowns possibly coming this week.
He urged 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 CFO Mitsuru Takahashi said the switch to air delivery for parts may increase costs by ¥7 billion ($59.5 million) per month.
As of Thursday, Feb. 5, Honda’s production in the U.S. hadn’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, 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 “coastwide meltdown.”
He called on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to accept management’s second formal contract proposal since negotiations began last May.