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CMA CGM and Air France-KLM join forces

The rapid transformation of French transport group CMA CGM has taken another major step today with news the Rodolphe Saadé-led company will invest in Air France-KLM, joining forces in the air cargo domain.

The long-term strategic partnership signed today will see both parties combine their complementary cargo networks, full freighter capacity and dedicated services.

The agreement will have an initial duration of 10 years. Air France-KLM and CMA CGM will join and exclusively operate the full-freighter aircraft capacity of the respective airlines consisting initially of a fleet of 10 full-freighter aircraft, and an additional combined 12 aircraft on order. This new commercial partnership also covers Air France-KLM’s belly aircraft capacity, including over 160 long-haul aircraft.

CMA CGM, which posted a net profit of $18bn last year, also said today it would take up to 9% of Air France-KLM’s ex-post share capital.

Saadé, the chairman and CEO of CMA CGM, said: “I am very pleased with this strategic partnership with Air France-KLM. It allows us to significantly accelerate the development of our air division, CMA CGM Air Cargo, which was created just over a year ago, and to position our two companies among the world’s leading players in air freight.”

Saadé said the partnership is fully in line with CMA CGM’s strategy and ambition to become a leader in integrated logistics.

Over the past three years, which has coincided with container shipping’s greatest bull run, CMA CGM has expanded well beyond its liner bedrock, acquiring CEVA Logistics, Ingram Micro’s Commerce & Lifecycle Services (CLS), Colis Privé and GEFCO. In March last year, the company also created CMA CGM Air Cargo.

Airplanes are increasingly the must-have bolt on for cash-rich containerlines, the billionaires of the transport sector, making more money than Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google.

The Aponte family-controlled Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) tied up with Germany’s Lufthansa earlier this year to look at a bid to acquire the majority of Alitalia successor ITA Airways, while last month A.P. Moller-Maersk decided to heap its aviation offerings into a new brand, Maersk Air Cargo.

In Asia there are a host of shipping lines with aviation interests. Taiwanese liner Evergreen owns EVA Air, while Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) runs Nippon Cargo Airlines. Last December, Beijing created the China Logistics Group with three strategic investors, China Eastern Air, Cosco and China Merchants.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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