“The moment we get closer to Ceva, we are out of the game.”

So said Adriaan Den Heijer, Air France KLM Cargo’s EVP and cooperation lead yesterday, talking about the airline’s deal with CMA CGM Air Cargo.

Last month, AF-KLM and CMA launched their 10-year air cargo partnership, which sees the pair combining their cargo networks. But, with CMA’s increasing ambitions in the logistics space and its ownership of Ceva Logistics, Gefco and now Bolloré Logistics, they were quick to deny that any single forwarder may have an advantage over another.

“Ceva is one customer; we remain neutral,” added Guillaume Lathelize, CEO of CMA CGM Air Cargo, at Transport Logistic in Munich. “And the same will apply with AF-KLM.

“In the shipping industry, we have recognised that Ceva is separate from CMA’s shipping business, but this is newer in air cargo.

“Governance-wise, we have put in place very good boundaries.”

Mr Den Heijer added: “Ceva also knows it wouldn’t be good. We have to be transparent, and most of our customers recognise that. Of course, we get questions about it.

“Many customers we deal with now have aircraft or ships, so what is the difference?”

The pair pointed to Maersk, and added that customers were looking for solutions to supply chain challenges, which could combine ocean and air.

“Other companies also have a mix of providers, and also have boundaries,” said Mr Lathelize. “We deal with global forwarders, and we are bringing them the power of a global group. We are looking at cross-selling solutions between the shipping and aviation businesses, so we are working on sea-air products.”

Mr Den Heijer added: “Sea-air is not a new thing, but the momentum now is different from 10 years ago. Dubai can make sea-air work. In Europe, you’d need some infrastructure investments; I’ve never understood why Rotterdam and Schiphol are not better connected.

“But Dubai and Shanghai are possible, and sea-air is more sustainable too.”

Sea-air tends to work only when freight rates are at exactly the right point, and the business can be pretty volatile – but the AF-KLM/CMA team believe Maersk and MSC might set up a similar operation.

Meanwhile, AF-KLM Cargo also announced improvements to its online booking platform, myCargo. Customers can book CMA flights via the platform, as well as view, book, manage and modify their allocations.

Soon to come on the platform is the ability to introduce automatic booking allocations for the whole season, as well as new products such as e-pharma. It uses AI and dynamic pricing and includes track and trace, claims and adding SAF. The carrier said the platform gave customers “full control”.  Last month some 73% of bookings for the carrier were on digital platforms.

Watch out for more content on The Loadstar soon about air cargo distribution channels

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