Talks regarding setting up a long-term commercial partnership between the two companies are currently at an advanced stage, Noud Duyzings, VP &Global Lead CMA CGM Partnership, confirmed in an exclusive interview with CargoForwarder Global. There are still various details that need straightening out, but, as things stand, negotiations will be finalized in the coming weeks, the Air France-KLM Cargo Executive forecasts. Given that is the case, “we aim to launch the partnership in early 2023,” he announced.
CMA CGM and Air France-KLM Cargo follow the principle: thoroughness beats rapidness. This has been their joint motto since 18MAY22, when both companies announced a Global Commercial cooperation.
Since then, there has been much speculation about the alliance, but little was heard from the respective headquarters in Marseille, Paris, and Amsterdam.
Subgroup members are convening
Until now. The contenders’ new openness is driven by the fact that their negotiations are nearing the finish line. Although, nothing is inked yet because there are still some open issues that need resolving, such as revenue management, IT landscape, pricing system, network decisions, and others. As soon as the subgroups have tabled their results, followed by the approval of the boards of the shipping line and the airline, the joint journey can begin. Reaching a final accord might even last longer than expected after the CEO of CMA CGM Air Cargo, Olivier Casanova, stepped back from this post unexpectedly on 03OCT22. He was replaced by Guillaume Lathelize with immediate effect.
And this is already becoming apparent today:
- there will be a joint and finetuned full freighter network strategy to fit the partners' capacity and market needs,
- a joint Sales & Distribution organization will coordinate the market approach. Thus, a co-leadership structure is emerging, which will mutually decide on main operational and commercial aspects,
- The collaboration is planned for a minimum duration of ten years. “After that, we expect no need to discontinue our collaboration,” Mr. Duyzings forecasts.
Addressing the role of CMA CGM logistics subsidiary, CEVA, he clarified that the agent will be treated neutrally and not given preferential status in booking capacity. “We have many global
customers such as Kuehne+Nagel, DGF, DSV, or Bollore, to name but a few. We treat everyone equally, so we cannot give CEVA any priority.”
Initial fleet of 12 widebody freighters
Before taking to the sky, the future allies still have to achieve antitrust immunity on a global level as a prerequisite for their joint project, especially in core markets such as the USA and EU. Applications are currently being prepared, confirms Executive Duyzings. He does not speculate on the duration of the authorities’ reviews, but expects to get the green light on most of the global scope by the end of this year.
In that case, CMA CGM and Air France-KLM Cargo will start with a fleet of 12 freighters, with CMA CGM contributing six units (A330F, 2 B 777F) as will KLM (4 B747-400F) and Air France (2 B777F). In the medium term, the fleet will be increased to 16 units through the acquisition of Airbus A350F by CCAC and Air France.
Main deck offer is complemented by belly hold capacity
The CCAC freighters’ initial home base will be Paris-CDG, while CCAC also aims to base freighter aircraft at Amsterdam by 2024. Both hubs ensure optimal use of the freighter fleet, with main deck operations being complemented by a strong and wide-spun Air France-KLM belly network. Details are still open, especially since the Dutch government is planning to reduce the number of takeoffs and landings from the current annual maximum of 500,000 to 440,000, so final slot decisions are yet to be made.
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