Just six months after A.P. Moller - Maersk (Maersk) announced the launch of its own, in-house airline, Maersk Air Cargo is poised to set off on its inaugural flight on 31OCT22. Is it an opportune time?
“Maersk is expanding its own controlled air freight capacity between Asia and the U.S. with the addition of three new Boeing B766-300F freighters. Each aircraft has a payload of 50 tons. Once
under operation in early 2023, the aircraft will add 900 tons of cargo capacity on 18 flight sectors (two-way), between Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH) and Shenyang Taoxian
International Airport (SHE) in China; Incheon International Airport (ICN) in South Korea; and two U.S. gateways – Chicago Rockford (RFD) and Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP),” are the details
given on Maersk Air Cargo’s own website.
The start date has been brought forward. Just three weeks after the company’s Operations Control Center went live on 03OCT22, swiftly followed by the inauguration of a new Chicago Air Freight Gateway near O’Hare Airport the next week, Maersk Air Cargo has now announced the launch of its initial flight, due tomorrow, 31OCT22.
The first of three B767-300F is ready to go
It is the first of Maersk Air Cargo’s newly purchased and built Boeing 767-300 freighters that will set off on 31OCT22, starting a twice-weekly service between the U.S. and Korea. The scheduled transpacific flights between Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina (GSP) and Incheon, Korea (ICN), will be operated by the Miami-headquartered cargo airline, Amerijet International.
Michel Pozas Lucic, Global Head of Air & LCL in A.P. Moller – Maersk, stated: “Back in April, we announced the launch of Maersk Air Cargo as our integrated in-house air cargo carrier. With the introduction of this new service between the U.S. and Korea, we have taken the next step in securing logistics solutions for our customers with our own aircrafts. Next to the new scheduled transpacific flights, we also operate own controlled capacity from Europe into the US, Mexico, South Africa, and Singapore.”
Unique end-to-end freight services
The overall aim, is “to provide customers with unique end-to-end air freight services through own controlled capacity and a global network of scheduled flights.” Maersk has long been preparing for this, having first cooperated with (CFG reported), and then acquired global freight forwarder, Senator International in JUN22. At the same time, it has been hiring air cargo talent across the industry.
Is the timing right?
The 31OCT22 flight not only kicks off Maersk Air Cargo’s own air services but is also the first scheduled air cargo operation between the state of South Carolina and Asia. “The corridor from GSP International Airport is expected to significantly increase access for trade between Asia, South Carolina, and the entire Southeast U.S.,” the release reveals. And yet, the question is whether the timing is opportune. Since months, the air cargo industry has been experiencing a slow-down in cargo demand, whilst on the other hand, passenger traffic is rising once more – ergo, belly capacities are returning. The latest Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) statistics reveal that last month’s cargo demand fell by 10.4% compared to 2021, while freight capacities increased by 5.9%. Hence, load cargo factors dropped by 11.6 percentage points to 64%. On the other hand, Rockford Airport, which has seen incredible growth over the past five year (25% increase in 2021), is still looking to set another air cargo record this year. Overall, however, the Asia Pacific – North America markets saw a 3% reduction in SEP22, and a 4% reduction in the other direction.
Not the only new kid on the block starting up
Despite the cargo slowdown, Maersk is not the only new airline taking off at the moment. Over in Vietnam, IPP Air Cargo, the country’s first cargo airline (CFG reported), is in the final throes of preparation for its first Hong Kong – Singapore flights, whilst Indian carrier, Quikjet is pending its 2022 resurrection, having taken delivery of its first B737-800(SF) in AUG22. Not to mention all the full conversion books and numerous freighter orders amongst other cargo airlines.
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