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“Landmark step”: Air France-KLM and CMA CGM join forces in air cargo

Air France-KLM Group and the CMA CGM Group have signed a long-term air cargo strategic partnership.

The partnership will see both parties combine their complementary cargo networks, full freighter capacity and dedicated services with the aim of building “an even more competitive offer”.

The agreement will have an initial duration of 10 years, but remains subject to approval by the relevant regulators and consultation of employee representatives.

CMA CGM and Air France-KLM said they shared a “strong ambition” to invest and grow sustainably in the air freight business.

The companies will join and exclusively operate the full-freighter aircraft capacity of the respective airlines consisting initially of a fleet of 10 full-freighter aircraft, and an additional combined 12 aircraft on order. These are four full-freighter aircraft at CMA CGM Air Cargo (with outstanding orders for an additional eight aircraft, two of which may be operated by Air France-KLM in the future); and six full-freighter aircraft at Air France-KLM Group based at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (with outstanding orders for an additional four aircraft).

This new commercial partnership also covers Air France-KLM’s belly aircraft capacity, including over 160 long-haul aircraft.

CMA CGM and Air France-KLM’s partnership will also include the joint design of the full freighter networks and enhanced products and services mix opportunities.

CMA CGM will also become a new reference shareholder in Air France-KLM. CMA CGM said it had “the firm intention” to take up to nine per cent of Air France-KLM’s ex-post share capital, for a period consistent with the implementation of the strategic commercial partnership.

This investment could be made as part of the contemplated capital increase of Air France-KLM, as announced on 17 February 2022. Air France-KLM’s main shareholders will support a resolution for the appointment of one board member representing CMA CGM at the next shareholders’ meeting (on 24 May). Such appointment, if approved by the shareholders’ meeting, would be subject to the completion of CMA CGM’s investment.

“I am very pleased with this strategic partnership with Air France-KLM. It allows us to significantly accelerate the development of our air division, CMA CGM Air Cargo, which was created just over a year ago, and to position our two companies among the world’s leading players in air freight,” said CMA CGM Group’s chairman and CEO Rodolphe Saadé (pictured top right). “This partnership is fully in line with CMA CGM’s strategy and its ambition to become a leader in integrated logistics, for the benefit of its customers. Through our stake in the company, Air France-KLM will be able to count on us to support its future development.”

Air France-KLM Group’s CEO Benjamin Smith (pictured top left) commented: “This strategic partnership leverages the complementary skills, expertise and activities of Air France-KLM and CMA CGM. It is a landmark step which will significantly strengthen and expand the group’s position in the air cargo industry. I am also extremely pleased that this commercial partnership with CMA CGM has resulted in their decision to invest directly in the Air France-KLM Group, demonstrating a strong testimony of their belief in the future success of our group.”

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