Source: CMA CGM

CMA CGM this week launches its air cargo services – and has joined a booking platform.

The shipping line, which has acquired four A330-200 freighters from Qatar Airways to be operated by Air Belgium, is marketing its initial capacity, from Liege to Chicago O’Hare, via CargoAi’s booking platform.

The move reveals that CMA CGM Air Cargo is looking for customers other than Ceva Logistics, its sister company.

One source at the CMA CGM group noted that Ceva would take some 25% of the available capacity, via blocked space agreements, but the new airline’s focus on the transatlantic didn’t align with Ceva’s strongest air trade routes, on the transpacific.

The remainder of the capacity will be sold by global GSA, ECS Group.

The move to a booking platform could quell some disquiet among forwarders concerned that CMA would prioritise Ceva, and most have welcomed the ‘new’ capacity in the market.

But an insider expressed doubts about the shipping line’s move into air cargo with acquired aircraft.

“First, I am not sure they understood how very expensive planes are, and how expensive it is to operate them. It is not a soft, easy option.”

He added that forwarders could be reluctant to buy capacity on the aircraft, thinking it was “a Ceva plane”, and also noted that airlines may come to see Ceva as a competing carrier.

But one major forwarder said he understood that CMA CGM wanted to be capacity-neutral. The forwarder also pointed to the differences with Maersk, which is offering a total logistics product.

“CMA and Ceva have an integrated model, but we are seeing a different strategy from Maersk. We don’t have concerns over CMA’s ownership of Ceva.”

Sources told The Loadstar CMA had fallen for the A330-200Fs because they were relatively cheap, available and well-maintained, having come from Qatar Airways’ fleet.

“But why was Qatar Airways selling them?’ asked the insider. “Because they are only good for express cargo, not for general cargo.”

However, the operations appear to be geared for general cargo, according to CargoAi’s platform, which shows the first available flight to Chicago on March 13.

In a separate move, CargoAi this week announced a four-strong advisory board, comprising Liana Coyne, director of Coyne Airways; Markus Flacke, former managing director of Champ Cargosystems; Cyril Dumon, chief executive Asia Pacific for Bolloré; and Ricardo Pilon, chief cargo transformation officer at Millennium Aviation and SASI consultant.

“Our goal is to advocate for and positively disrupt our beloved airfreight industry with a very pragmatic and humble approach,” said Matthieu Petot, CEO of CargoAi.

“It’s a real honour for us to welcome airfreight veterans and aviation enthusiasts to the board and we’re looking forward to a very close cooperation as we continue to develop our product offering and look to generate value for the industry.”

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