Maersk Chicago Air Freight Gateway loading area photo

Maersk has taken another step in its bid to become a fully integrated logistics provider – while rival MSC has also indicated it has more modes in mind following its step into airfreight.

Maersk today opened its new Chicago Air Freight Gateway, outside O’Hare (ORD) airport, serving as its hub for Rockford International, the city’s rapidly expanding and cargo-focused secondary airport.

The hub, in a “strategic location” between the two airports, will offer “direct plane-side recovery with immediate transfers to the new facility”, and will have access to 70% of the US via an overnight truck drive, “enabling important shipments from Asia and Europe to speed to their destination”.

Mike Meierkort, regional head of Maersk North America Logistics and Services, said: “We want to expand our air freight presence and logistics services in key locations, and today’s Chicago inauguration is an important step in our integrated offering.

“We want to create more routing options and flexibility for customers looking to improve their air cargo supply chains.”

Maersk’s gateway is a bonded container freight station with US Customs, and operates as a TSA-certified cargo screening facility. Maersk claims imports and exports arriving at ORD would be ready in 24 hours from the 60,777 sq ft facility.

While the line completed its acquisition of airfreight forwarder Senator International in June, its two new 777 aircraft will not arrive until 2024, while three leased 767-300Fs will be operational next year. It also has some 16 767Fs via its former Star Air arm.

Meanwhile, rival MSC is also eyeing integrated services, and also sees its airfreight future in the US. It recently announced its own foray into air cargo with four 777Fs leased from Atlas Air, after appointing US air cargo specialist Jannie Davel to lead its air arm.

Despite having a huge containership orderbook in a time of swiftly declining volumes and demand, as well as four 777Fs to fill from next year, MSC CEO Soren Toft was yesterday upbeat in a message on social media. He said: “The big news for us this past quarter was, arguably, that we are developing MSC Air Cargo. I’m really excited about this. It adds a new dimension to the company.”

He added: “As I think everyone is aware, the market is normalising. But we are also seeing rising inflation, rising interest rates and rising energy prices, so there will no doubt be some difficult quarters ahead.

“However, there are lots of reasons to stay positive, and we are developing other solutions, not only air cargo, but also on the land side to expand our service offering further.”

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