Air France-KLM and French logistics company CMA CGM Group have signed a ten-year strategic partnership to jointly develop their air cargo market. The two airlines will combine their cargo networks and fleet, and offer their services as one voice to customers. This is expected to generate significant revenue synergies, the two companies say in a joint media statement. Air France-KLM and CMA CGM to form cargo partnership.
The partnership also includes the commitment from CMA CGM to take a nine percent ex-post share capital in Air France-KLM for a period that is consistent with the duration of the partnership. This investment is part of the planned capital increase of Air France-KLM, which has been announced in February but still needs to be confirmed.
Air France-KLM en CMA CGM will jointly operate their full freighter fleet. Air France-KLM and their freighter subsidiary Martinair currently have a fleet of six Boeing 777Fs and 747-400Fs that are based at Paris Charles de Gaulle and at Amsterdam Schiphol. The airline recently confirmed its order for four Airbus A350Fs.
CMA CGM Air Cargo operates four freighters, but said in August lats year that it was planning to accelerate its growth strategy. It had orders for four Boeing 777Fs, of which the first is to be delivered anytime soon, as well as for four A350Fs that were ordered in November. Two of the future aircraft may be operated by Air France-KLM, which has belly capacity available in another 160 aircraft.
Air France-KLM and CMA CGM Air Cargo each have four Airbus A350Fs on order. (Airbus)
CMA CGM CEO Rodolpho Saade said in a media statement: “This partnership 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. This partnership is fully in line with CMA CGM’s strategy and its ambition to become a leader in integrated logistics, for the benefit of its customers. Through our stake in the company, Air France-KLM will be able to count on us to support its future development.”
Group CEO Benjamin Smith described the agreement as “a landmark step which will significantly strengthen and expand the Group’s position in the air cargo industry. I am also extremely pleased that this commercial partnership with CMA CGM has resulted in their decision to invest directly in the Air France-KLM Group, demonstrating a strong testimony of their belief in the future success of our Group.”
For the Dutch-French airline, the partnership means a return to a strong all-cargo unit within the group. Martinair Cargo had this role for decades, but its position was weakened after its seven McDonnell-Douglas MD-11Fs were phased out, the last in 2016. At the time, the group said that it could rely on belly cargo and a limited fleet of full freighters of two 777Fs at Air France and four 747-400Fs at KLM/Martinair, of which only one still wears the original red and white Martinair livery.
The launch of the partnership is subject to approval from regulators and needs consultation from employee representatives. Shareholders of Air France-KLM will vote on a resolution on May 24 to appoint one representative of CMA CGM to the Board of Directors.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.