Shipping group MSC to expand air cargo business with acquisitions

MSC Air Cargo

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a large Italian-founded, Swiss-based shipping group with interests in freight, logistics and the cruise industry, is preparing to acquire Italian air cargo operator AlisCargo, according to reports appeared in the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera

According to these rumors, of which there is not yet official confirmation by the parties allegedly involved, MSC would be looking to acquire the air cargo firm in order to expand its air cargo business as well as to secure its own air operator certificate (AOC). 

MSC launched MSC Air Cargo in September 2022. The initial plan called for the operation of a fleet of four Boeing 777-200F freighters, which may be expanded to eight or nine in successive years. 

The new freight carrier launched operations in December out of Liège airport in Belgium, one of Europe’s largest logistic hubs. The airline, however, doesn’t have its own AOC and the, so far only aircraft in its fleet, is actually operated by Atlas Air. 

The target of this acquisition, AlisCargo, was launched in 2021 by Italian businessman Domenico Alcide Leali, who had already founded Air Dolomiti, an Italian airline that, a few years ago, was absorbed by the Lufthansa Group. 

AlisCargo is based at Milano-Malpensa Airport (MXP) and operates a fleet of four Boeing 777-200ER P2F aircraft (that is aircraft that have been converted from passenger to cargo service). 

Already one of the world’s leading players in seaborne freight, MSC has been looking at the air transportation market with interest for quite some time. The shipping group was said to be among the potential bidders for ITA Airways, although it finally didn’t invest the Alitalia successor (Lufthansa did instead). 

If confirmed, MSC would follow in the footsteps of its competitor, French shipping and logistics firm CMA-CGM, in the air cargo market.  

CMA-CGM runs a growing air cargo business, with six dedicated cargo aircraft in its fleet and six more on order. The French company is also one of the largest shareholders of the Air France-KLM group and has an ongoing partnership with that group of airlines. 

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