Global container shipping group AP Moeller-Maersk has placed its first order for two Boeing 777 freighter aircraft as part of an expansion of its air freight activities.
The Danish company also announced the acquisition of German air-based logistics company Senator International, saying the moves were “the next natural step in expanding our multi logistics offering”.
Maersk currently operates a fleet of 15 full freighter Boeing 767 widebody aircraft via Star Air out of hubs in Germany. Along with the two new 777F aircraft, Maersk also plans to charter a further three 767s for Star Air, thus increasing its fleet to 20 freighter aircraft by 2024.
“By strengthening our footprint within air freight, we become a sizable player able to add even more flexibility to our customers’ supply chains and further support their needs for truly integrated logistics across ocean, air and landside,” Maersk chief executive Søren Skou said in the company’s third quarter earnings report on November 2, 2021.
The 777 Freighter has a range of 9,200 kilometers and can carry a maximum revenue payload of 102,000 kilograms. Boeing said that means Star Air can make fewer stops and reduce landing fees on long-haul routes.
“The market leading efficiency and incredible range of the 777 Freighter will provide Maersk flexibility to profitably operate the airplane across its large air freight network,” commented Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s senior vice president of Commercial Sales and Marketing, in a separate press release.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many companies to boost their air freight offering. Around 50% of the world’s air freight is typically transported in the bellies of passenger planes, but with planes grounded, companies have needed to improvise all-freighter options. Tight supply chains caused by the pandemic have also pushed more freight into air, which is typically a more expensive way of transporting goods.
The International Air Transport Association predicts cargo demand will exceed pre-crisis levels by 8% in 2021. Revenues are expected to rise to a record $175 billion and yields to grow by 15%.
For example, France’s Geodis has leased an A330, its first dedicated freighter and US airline Eastern Airlines is launching a cargo arm.
Smart Lynx also announced on November 1, 2021 that it is taking on an additional Airbus A321F freighters.