THE Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC), the world's biggest container line, has opened an air cargo service following the delivery of the first of four MSC-branded Boeing 777-200Fs, reports Bloomberg.
The new business will be led by Jannie Davel, a former managing director of cargo at Delta Air Lines, who has also worked at Emirates and DHL, with the 777-200Fs to be provided by Atlas Air, which will fly them on MSC's behalf.
"This is our first step into this market and we plan to continue exploring various avenues to develop air cargo in a way that complements our core business," said MSC chief executive Soren Toft.
The Italian-Swiss firm joins French rival CMA CGM in establishing an in-house air freight fleet. CMA CGM began flying cargo jets in 2021 and in May, swollen with profits generated during the Covid crisis, agreed to an alliance with Air France-KLM that included a stake of as much as nine per cent in the debt-laden airline.
AP Moller-Maersk 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.
Still, the news from MSC comes as container shippers confront a downturn as weaker demand pushes prices to their lowest in more than two years. Air freight volumes are also dipping and had returned to near pre-Covid levels as of July, down 10 per cent from a year earlier.
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 newly elected conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who opposed it, has since has been elected.
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