A prolonged shutdown of the nation's air traffic system could quickly bring the IT industry to a grinding halt by drying up the supply of computer motherboards.
Much of the country's motherboard supply depends on air shipments, manufacturers said.
"Motherboard manufacturers need air shipments," said Sam Tsai, president of Elitegroup Computer Services, a Fremont, Calif.-based motherboard maker "Motherboard specifications change daily."
Elitegroup depends on air freight to bring about 90 percent of its motherboards from Asia to the United States, with the remaining 10 percent coming by sea. "We are so nervous now," said Tsai.
Sometimes when an air freight shipment comes in, certain best-selling motherboards can be shipped out within two hours, Tsai said. He said Elitegroup has stock to handle repairs, but not even one day of inventory for shipping.
As a backup plan, Tsai said Elitegroup is considering air freighting motherboards to Vancouver, Canada, and bringing them to Fremont via truck.
MSI Computer, City of Industry, Calif., typically keeps two weeks' worth of inventory on hand and gets an air shipment of motherboards from Asia once a week, said Daniel Wang, sales director.
"Maybe one or two models may have supply problems if we don't get a shipment," Wang said. "But for most models, missing a shipment is not a problem."
MSI currently gets 85 percent of its motherboards in via air shipment, said Wang. He expects airports to be open for business by the weekend.