The Marseille-based CMA CGM Group acquired a 30% stake in the French Groupe Dubreuil Aéro, headquartered in western France, near the Loire estuary. The Group’s fleet comprises 18 passenger aircraft, including 14 wide-bodied A350 and A330 jetliners. Market observers speak of a surprising move since up to now aviation has not been a business sector the Mediterranean shipping line paid attention to.
So far, it is only a MoU signed last week by Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, and Jean-Paul Dubreuil, Chairman of Groupe DUBREUIL Aéro. However, it might
become a trail blazer for the maritime company to add air freight activities to its transport and product portfolio. This was expressed by CEO Rodolphe Saadé of shipping line CMA CGM, who stated:
“The acquisition will enable the CMA CGM Group to strengthen its position in air freight. We will bring to Groupe Dubreuil Aéro all our expertise in the transport of goods in ultra-marine
Just the beginning of something greater?
Two passenger airlines belong to the Groupe Dubreuil Aéro. These are Air Caraïbes, and budget carrier, French Bee, linking Paris (Orly) with San Francisco, but mainly serving routes to French overseas territories in Polynesia, Tahiti, Reunion, as well as to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. French Bee operates 3 Airbus A350-900 and has ordered a fourth unit, while the much larger and more prominent Air Caraïbes has 15 aircraft in its fleet, among them A330 and A350, but also 3 ATR 72-600 for regional flights in the Caribbean. The A330 and A350 are known as being very cargo efficient aircraft, capable of uplifting between 15 and 25 tons per flight, depending on passenger luggage.
Unclear future role of HiLine Cargo
Once the deal is finally inked and approved by the competition watchdogs, CMA CGM will channel 50 million euros into the French aviation group, securing itself a 30% stake, and allowing it to send 2 representatives to Groupe Dubreuil Aéro’s Board of Directors. The investment will be made through an increase in capital and the acquisition of common shares. Both partners aim at strengthening the cargo business with the CMA CGM Group, bringing in its renowned logistical expertise to contribute to the development of Groupe DUBREUIL Aéro's wide-ranging activities, particularly through HiLine Cargo. The agent markets the holds of Air Caraïbes and French Bee's fleets of A330 and A350 aircraft. By optimizing the freight transported on each of the routes, it ensures important additional revenue for both airlines.
Which role HiLine Cargo will play after CMA CGM’s forthcoming capital injection, and whether it will continue being responsible for marketing the freight capacity of the two airlines belonging to Groupe Dubreuil Aéro, was left open during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
Corona speeded up the acquisition
The forthcoming influx of capital in dire Covid-19 times following the conclusion of the partnership, was expressed by Jean-Paul Dubreuil, Chairman of Group Dubreuil Aéro: “This gives us the opportunity not only to strengthen the Group's equity capital with the support of a very fine French family company, but also to look forward more confidently to the turbulent period that the air transport sector is going through, by preparing for the rebound and future growth of the division.”
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