Nintendo Switch Goes Airborne: Gaming Giant Uses Costly Air Freight To Satisfy Extreme Demand

If the Wii U was a huge disappointment, then Nintendo is truly making up for it with the follow-up “Switch” hybrid gaming console. During the closing days of April, Nintendo issued an earnings forecast which projects that profit will jump 121 percent year-over-year for the current fiscal year, taking its tally to $584 million.

The company has now indicated that it took a rather unusual step in an effort to ensure that key markets were receiving a steady supply of consoles. Nintendo, like other companies, bases the logistics of delivering consoles to world markets on the speed (or rather, lack thereof) of sea freight. Shipping products by sea is very economical, but companies pay the price with regards to time to market. However, Nintendo reportedly boarded some Switch consoles on airplanes in order to speed up resupply efforts.

Nintendo Switch Box

“We carried some of the Switches by plane in March to serve our customers more promptly,” said a Nintendo spokesman to The Wall Street Journal. According to one analyst, the highly unusual move by Nintendo to ship these Switch consoles by air was very costly, adding about $45 to the cost of each unit. It is likely that these air shipments were headed to crucial markets like the United States and Europe.

Demand has been especially brisk in the United States, with retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Toys R Us selling out within minutes of getting new stock in for customers. Some customers have even been roped into buying the consoles in “bundled” packages which can run $500 or more, but guarantee nice profits for retailers.

Since its launch in early March, Nintendo has officially sold 2.74 million Switch consoles and nearly the same number of copies of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which has won rave reviews).

However, the Switch isn’t the only hit that Nintendo has had in recent months. The company was also taken by surprise with consumer demand for the NES Classic Edition. Nintendo has sold over 2 million units of the retro console since its November launch and announced in April that it would discontinue production.

“It’s important to recognize where our future is and the key areas that we need to drive,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé. “We've got a lot going on right now and we don't have unlimited resources."