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Maersk stretches cargo airline wings with inaugural US-Korea flight

A.P. Moller – Maersk announced the inaugural flight of Maersk Air Cargo´s new air freight service with scheduled flights between Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina (GSP) and Incheon, Korea (ICN).

The scheduled transpacific operation will commence on 31 October with two weekly flights introducing the first of three newly built Boeing 767-300 freighters that have recently been purchased by Maersk Air Cargo.

All US-Korea flights will be operated by Miami-headquartered cargo airline Amerijet International.

“Back in April, we announced the launch of Maersk Air Cargo as our integrated in-house air cargo carrier. With the introduction of this new service between the US and Korea, we have taken the next step in securing logistics solutions for our customers with our own aircrafts. Next to the new scheduled transpacific flights, we also operate own controlled capacity from Europe into the US, Mexico, South Africa, and Singapore,” commented Michel Pozas Lucic, global head of Air & LCL in A.P. Moller – Maersk.

The scheduled flight of Maersk Air Cargo also marks the first scheduled air cargo operation between the state of South Carolina and Asia.

Meanwhile, the Danish company recently opened a new Chicago Air Freight Gateway facility aiming to add more supply chain integration opportunities for customers using Chicago O’Hare International and Rockford International.

Source: Container News


Maersk Air Cargo opens US bases with South Korea service set to debut

Maersk Air Cargo, the in-house airline of container shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, plans to inaugurate scheduled airfreight service in the U.S. market this month from South Korea to Rockford International Airport in Illinois and Greenville-Spartanburg airport in South Carolina, FreightWaves has learned.

Meanwhile, Maersk has opened a freight station near Chicago O’Hare International Airport to support its aggressive growth plans for air cargo business in the United States, part of a broader transformation into a one-source provider of logistics services.

Maersk said Wednesday it established a 61,000-square-foot cargo terminal near O’Hare to facilitate quicker shipment flows for customers at one of the nation’s largest international air cargo crossroads. The warehouse will also serve as a staging point for Maersk’s dedicated freighter hub at Rockford, about an hour’s drive west of O’Hare.

Acting in the capacity of a freight forwarder, Maersk has designed the Chicago airfreight gateway to offer direct recovery of freight at O’Hare as it comes off the aircraft in pallets or containers. Logistics companies usually collect commercial shipments after they have been processed through a transfer facility operated by an airline’s ground-handling agent but often make arrangements for direct truck collection when full charters loaded with their own freight are involved.

“We want to expand our air freight presence and logistics services in key locations, and [Wednesday’s] Chicago inauguration is an important step in our integrated offering to customers,” said Mike Meierkort, regional head of Maersk North America Logistics and Services, in a news release. “We want to create more routing options and flexibility for customers looking to improve their air cargo supply chains. Our new Chicago Air Freight Gateway offers an integrated supply chain solution to time critical shipments and order fulfillment deadlines.”

The Chicago gateway is a logical step for Maersk as it makes a big push in air cargo and into the U.S. market.

Last summer it took ownership of Senator International, a German forwarder that specializes in managing air shipments, for $644 million. Senator enhanced Maersk’s existing, but limited, air logistics capabilities.

The shipping giant also is expanding its existing cargo airline, called Star Air, to support internal customers rather than only operate as a contract carrier for express delivery companies. Star Air changed its legal name to Maersk Air Cargo and now the airline and airfreight management team function collectively under the Maersk Air Cargo umbrella.

The U.S. Department of Transportation in September issued an amended foreign carrier permit to Maersk’s private airline, allowing it to provide scheduled and charter service between the U.S. and international destinations under its new name.

Maersk Air Cargo operates 15 Boeing 767 freighters, most of them converted passenger aircraft, from hubs in Germany and England. It has an agreement to begin leasing three 767-300 freighters from Ohio-based Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) in the second half of the year. It also has two 777 freighters on order from Boeing.

FreightWaves was first to report that Maersk, without notice, this year bought three production 767 freighters from Boeing when the original customers canceled the deals and is outsourcing their operation to Miami-based Amerijet, which will soon fly them on trans-Pacific routes.

Rockford-Chicago symbiosis

Chicago is strategically important for serving customers because of its central U.S. location and connection point between Asia and Europe.

O’Hare ranks as the second-busiest air cargo gateway in the U.S. — excluding the FedEx and UPS hubs in Tennessee and Kentucky. It benefits from proximity to the manufacturing belt, massive distribution infrastructure and the fact that more than two-thirds of the American population can be reached from Chicago within an overnight truck drive.

A Maersk spokesperson said demand for airfreight service in the Chicago region is high among industrial, chemical, automotive and technology customers.

Senator International last year leased a section of the new cargo terminal at Rockford International Airport (RFD) to handle more dedicated freighters rented from all-cargo operators to avoid congestion at O’Hare. Maersk now controls the facility, which is set up for direct transfer of freight from all-cargo aircraft.

The spokesperson said Maersk Air Cargo planes will arrive and depart at Rockford, which also handles charters provided by third-party carriers. The new gateway in Chicago can feed the freighter operations in Rockford or receive inbound shipments.

The Maersk representative said Maersk Air Cargo will commence U.S. service sometime this month with regular flights between Incheon airport in Korea and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), where Maersk, thanks to the Senator deal, also operates a terminal to support the forwarding business’ charter activity. As previously reported, the airline ran trial flights in August between South Korea and GSP.

On Oct. 31, Maersk will begin flights between Korea and RFD.

The spokesperson said Maersk is exploring the possibility of increasing freighter operations at Rockford airport. At O’Hare airport, Maersk will rely on airline ground handlers to perform plane-to-truck transfers.

No information is available yet on where the aircraft leased from ATSG will operate.

Leveraging air-to-truck transfers
Maersk’s ability to pick up shipments inside O’Hare’s fence will enable more expedited delivery to customers.

Arrangements must be made for roller-bed trucks with special clearances and coordinating with ground handlers.

Maersk’s deconsolidation/consolidation facility has authority to receive imports and exports under a customs bond for deferred clearance away from the port of entry. Import cargo can be ready for delivery within 24 hours of arrival, the company said.

It also is certified by the Transportation Security Administration to screen outbound cargo before being transferred to airlines, which saves time and money compared to airport security.

Source: Freight Waves


CMA CGM keeps air cargo results to itself, but spends big on aircraft

CMA CGM has spent some $753.3m in prepayments on its aircraft orderbook, up from $723.2m at the end of 2021, following its recent order for two 777 freighters, set to deliver in 2024. Meanwhile, the first of its previous order for two 777Fs joined the fleet on 31 May, with the second “in the process of being delivered”.

However, there was little other new information on air cargo in CMA CGM’s 39-page financial results for Q1. In what will surely change, CMA CGM does not currently separate out its air cargo results, instead lumping them in with ‘Other activities’ which “mainly” include port terminals and air cargo.

Nevertheless, ‘Other Activities’ saw revenue grow to $384m, up from $166.6m a year earlier in the first quarter. Ebitda grew 120% to $84.2m, while ebit jumped an impressive 702% to $35.3m, presumably accounting for the growth in air cargo.

Aside from those details, the group reiterated its recently announced plans on aircraft orders (four A350Fs joining between 2025 and 2026, giving it three aircraft types in its 12-strong future fleet); and agreement with Air France-KLM, which will see CMA Group head Rodolphe Saadé join the airline group’s board. CMA is investing some €400m in AF-KLM’s ex-post share capital, giving it 9% of the airline.

Details on the acquisition of Gefco were also similarly scant, although CMA said the purchase would “strengthen its development within Ceva Logistics”. While the European Commission has authorised CMA to acquire Gefco’s capital immediately, to save the company from sanctions being applied under its former owner Russian Railways, the deal still needs to be approved by competition authorities, and only then can Gefco be integrated.

CMA noted that Ceva meanwhile, has recently acquired Imgram Micro’s ecommerce-related business, including Shipwire, a logistics technology platform, for $2.9bn. It also acquired Colis Privé, a last-mile B2C parcel delivery company in France and Europe, revealing the group’s end-to-end strategy.

There was little further detail beyond limited results information, which showed that CMA’s Logistics segment, primarily Ceva’s operations, saw revenue increase 57% to $2.15bn, while ebitda rose 45% to $171.7m, and ebit jumped 162% to $39.4m.

Meanwhile, the whole CMA CGM group’s revenues for the quarter came in at $18.2bn, resulting in ebit of $7.6bn and a profit of $7.2bn.

Source: The LoadStar


Europes airports and handlers ditching cargo as passenger flights resume

Airlines are switching European airports as severe staff shortages keep freighters on the ground for hours, while others are having to fly before they are fully loaded.

Europes airports and handlers ditching cargo as passenger flights resume

German and Belgian airports were said to be among the worst affected according to carriers – who spoke to The Loadstar anonymously, fearing “vindictive” handlers would drop them altogether.

One carrier, which said it had faced losing about one-third of its capacity in recent weeks because of the shortage of handlers, said airports and handlers would get “little sympathy from cargo operators”.

“They have been making hay from cargo, but have now ditched us for passengers, which feels a bit short-term. And you would have thought that the Germans would have it sorted – but even they haven’t.”

Egyptair Cargo said this week it would switch operations from Cologne-Bonn (CGN), which has one major handler, to Ostend-Bruges until further notice, and other carriers have also re-routed to try to avoid the ‘worst’ airports.

Carriers said some airports were only deploying two or three staff for a whole aircraft, with delays on the ground of up to eight hours. Another said the delays were costing it thousands of dollars per flight.

“We have had a real struggle getting our flights away inside a window that would allow the aircraft to return to base for its next flight. It’s absolute bullshit. We have not been giving our customers the service they deserve because of delays and freight left behind.”

The source added that carriers were unable to complain for fear of reprisals.

A carrier source at a German airport explained that there was a perfect storm for labour shortages.

“Many airports have laid-off the (unskilled) interim workers, who are now reluctant to come back for physically challenging and low-paid jobs.

“In Germany, we have the system of “ kurzarbeit ”, which is short-term work, where employees are sent on leave while most of their salary is paid by the government.

“Now that the flights are coming back, there is a lack of skilled workers as this technical unemployment cannot be reversed at short notice. And of course, it is holiday period and people are eager to get a suntan at the Italian or Spanish rivieras.”

While some airports are said to be looking at incentives to bring in more labour, most downplayed the issues. Amsterdam Schiphol, cited as problematic by one carrier, preferred not to comment.

However, a spokesperson for CGN said: “The situation at the airport remains exceptional. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on airport operations are evident – whether at check-in or in aircraft handling.

“The high demand for travel has also led to a sharp increase in passenger traffic, which is often difficult to forecast due to short-term flight scheduling and which reaches pre-crisis levels at peak times.

“Unfortunately, this means that it is not always possible to avoid delays in operations during particularly busy periods. The airport has already taken numerous measures to optimise operations and to significantly improve staff deployment.”

Carriers also pointed to difficulties at Liege Airport, which prides itself on being cargo-focused. VP commercial Steven Verhasselt said the airport was seeing record volumes each month – 40% more volumes, year on year in the first half of 2021.

“That growth is obviously a challenge for the handlers, but they are coping and there are hardly any employment issues in LGG. There is no pile-up for export cargo. The warehouses are busy, but not extremely full.

“One of our customers has indeed diverted some of its capacity to other airports, while still keeping LGG as one of its main hubs in Europe. We sure hope that is only temporary, and will continue to work on improving and delivering.

“The discussion between airlines and handlers, concerning late cargo deliveries versus delivered cargo missing a flight, is not new. It happens, as it happens in other airports, but there is no structural issue.”

Noting that growth would continue, with Cainiao starting operations in September, he added: “All handlers will keep looking for more talent, and we will keep supporting them.”

One of the biggest bugbears for all stakeholders is the continued use of passenger-freighter aircraft. One carrier source said: “I heard that Frankfurt has similar problems, even more so as the hilarious ‘preighters’ with cabin loads need a dozen workers to unload.

“Airports are now reluctant to accept these aircraft as they say they haven’t got the manpower to fit this in their schedule.“

He added that handlers at Brussels Airport (BRU) were refusing to receive additional ‘preighter’ flights. However, a spokesperson for BRU said some 40% of its all-cargo flights were passenger-freighters, many devoted to vaccine transport.

The spokesperson added BRU had seen 47% growth since 2019, and added: “The growth in volumes has been absorbed by the cargo handling agents and like most other European airports this upscaling of the cargo operations requires additional manpower. So far this has happened without major disruptions in operations.”

However, the spokesperson acknowledged that it was possible that a specific charter request had been turned down if it was “in the middle of an operational peak” and required “a lot more manpower than for a typical freighters”.

Fraport, meanwhile, noted that passenger traffic had risen significantly over the past few weeks, while “cargo continues to grow unabated”, and added that ‘preighters’ required “a lot of staff”.

“In addition, airlines currently also operate very flexible schedules, with changes frequently made at short notice. The cargo sector, in particular, has seen a rise in ad-hoc charter services. As a result of these structural changes, traffic tends to be heavily concentrated during several peak times of the day and on the weekends.

“A large quantity of staff is required to deal with these sudden sharp increases in demand – making it sometimes difficult to ensure on-time operations.”

As a result, Fraport has begun to cut or suspend short-time work for ground staff, while its handling arm is currently hiring.

“The situation is still very dynamic. The crisis is not over yet. Hence, flight schedules will be dynamic, too. So we will have to adjust and react flexibly.”

WFS, which has cargo operations in Brussels and Liege, said it had not experienced any difficulties, but would be recruiting staff in the coming months to help it manage traffic fluctuations.

Source: The Loadstar