French Maritime Giant Pushes Harder Into Air-Freight With 777s

French Maritime Giant Pushes Harder Into Air-Freight With 777s

CMA CGM SA is expecting to take delivery early next year of two Boeing Co. 777 freighters for its nascent air-cargo operation in a sign the French maritime giant is expanding aggressively into logistics. 

The Marseille-based shipping company said the jets are the first direct order for its dedicated air freight division, CMA CGM Air Cargo, which started operating in March with four A330-200F aircraft operated by Air Belgium. Delivery of the Boeing freighters is expected in the spring of 2022, a spokesman said Thursday. 

CMA CGM’s growth in the logistics sector is gathering pace after the family-owned company’s expansion over the past decades to become the world’s third-largest container carrier. 

The push into air cargo comes as a jump in freight rates during the pandemic made the industry more attractive. Carrying cargo in the bellies of planes that were often empty of passengers proved to be a rare bright spot for struggling network carriers like Air France-KLM, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Qatar Airways.

Global supply chains, with container shipping as their backbone, are having trouble keeping pace with demand for goods and overcoming Covid-related labor disruptions. Manufacturers have resorted to using more costly air transport to get supplies to keep factories running. 

“The 777 cargo will reinforce the group’s growth in the air freight market,” the company said in a statement Wednesday, adding that the planes will operate across its network.  

CMA CGM’s first regular route was between Liege and Chicago, and it has since added flights to New York, Atlanta and Dubai. 

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