The largest container shipping firm in the world, Mediterranean Shipping Co., will enter the air cargo market by utilising four leased wide-body freighters from Boeing Co.
Jannie Davel, a former managing director of cargo at Delta Air Lines Inc. who has also worked for Emirates and DHL, will be in charge of the new company. Atlas Air will furnish the 777-200Fs, and MSC will fly them on its behalf.
This is our entry into the market, and we intend to keep looking into different opportunities to expand air freight in a way that supports our main business. Soren Toft, the chief executive officer of MSC, said in a statement.
The Swiss firm joins French rival CMA CGM SA in establishing an in-house air-freight fleet. CMA began flying cargo jets in 2021 and, in May, swollen with profits generated during the coronavirus pandemic, agreed to an alliance with Air France-KLM that included a stake of as much as 9% in the debt-laden airline
A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S also agreed in 2021 to lease three Boeing 767 freighters and purchase two new 777Fs, to be operated and managed by cargo specialist Star Air.
The news from MSC comes at a time when container shippers are struggling as prices drop to their lowest levels in more than two years due to reduced demand. As of July, air freight volumes were down 10% from a year earlier and had nearly reached pre-COVID levels again.
MSC spent the past year increasing its ship capacity while bidding for Italian state carrier ITA Airways, an approach that was rejected last month by the outgoing Italian government in favor of one from an investor group including Air France-KLM and Delta.
It’s not yet clear whether the sale decision will change now that Giorgia Meloni, who had opposed it, is poised to lead the country’s most right-wing government since World War II, or if MSC remains interested.