Only three days after winning the launch order from Air Lease Corporation at the Dubai Airshow, Airbus has announced another customer for the A350 Freighter. French shipping and logistics company CMA CGM Group has signed a binding Memorandum of Understanding for four of the new freighter aircraft. Airbus wins A350F order from CMA CGM Air Cargo.

Once confirmed, this brings the backlog of the new freighter to eleven aircraft in a single week, although the MoU is no part of the orders for 404 commercial aircraft that Airbus won at the airshow.

CMA CGM Group has a history that dates back to 1978 when the Marseille-based company started as a shipping company with ships. The Compagnie Maritime d’Affretement took over Compagnie Generale Maritime in 1996 and currently operates 545 ships. Only this February it established an airline, CMA CGM Air Cargo. It has a fleet of four Airbus A330-200Fs that are operated by Air Belgium and are between 5.8 and 7 years old. Including an extra A330, the A350Fs will bring the Airbus fleet to nine as the A330s are there to stay. CMA CGM also has two Boeing 777Fs on order.

At its Q2 results presentation in August, the company said that it was planning accelerated growth of its new airline. It wanted to open additional destinations besides the current ones in Chicago, Dubai, New York, and Atlanta. And it said that “the Group is planning for the arrival of an additional aircraft by the end of the year and new equipment in 2022.”

The A350F offers a payload capacity of 109 tons compared to just 61 tons for the A330-200F. Airbus says the new freighter meets the requirements of air freight companies to cover both the e-commerce market with its higher volumes in payload and heavy cargo.

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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