Ceva push for new CMA CGM Air Cargo routes sparks fears of family ties

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CMA CGM Air Cargo has launched three new routes – but forwarders are starting to question whether the airline’s proximity to sister company Ceva Logistics means it is as capacity-neutral as initially thought.

Yesterday the four-aircraft airline, like Ceva owned by shipping line CMA CGM, said it was adding Dubai, Beirut and Istanbul to its three US routes, from its hub in Liege.

The routes “will complement existing A330-200F-operated services to and from Liège, Chicago, New York and Atlanta”, said CMA.

While the shipping line did not mention Ceva in the announcement, it did note that the airline was “a new milestone in the group’s strategic development, with the aim of providing group customers with a complementary range of services covering both shipping and logistics”.

When the airline launched earlier this year, observers pointed to the separation between Ceva Logistics, the shipping line and the air carrier.

One senior executive at a major forwarder told The Loadstar at the time: “CMA and Ceva have an integrated model, but …we don’t have concerns over CMA’s ownership of Ceva,” adding that Maersk’s move into the wider logistics market was far more problematic for his company.

Now however, another forwarder, previously unconcerned at the relationship between CMA’s air cargo arm and Ceva, has told The Loadstar: “It’s a competitor, that’s never a good thing.”

He added: “Ceva is heavily promoting the airline service as its own flights and aircraft throughout Europe, and is pushing the US trade to Chicago. It is almost an integrator.”

He added that his company had “already experienced” a blurring of the lines between Ceva and the airline.

The new Dubai route will help CMA provide its customers with a sea-air service, although forwarders report that sea-air is currently not a popular option, with high rates and a lack of capacity in both modes. CMA added that customers could enjoy a rapid connection from its new destinations to the US.

One forwarder noted that the decision to fly to Beirut could be related to relief work, but added: “Turkey is a reasonably lucrative market with short-haul flights, so that makes sense. With production behind schedule there are lots of late orders at the moment, so this maybe good for garment retailers.”

He believed CMA’s timing was spot on: “There is demand and need for maindeck and freighter capacity. CMA must be seeing a good return on its investment, and it has the whole of the Ceva network to convert freight from, or to target specific business.”

The new routes to Beirut and Istanbul will launch over the next few weeks and general sales agent ECS will sell the capacity. 

Xavier Eiglier, executive vice president of CMA CGM Air Cargo, said: “With the introduction of these three new destinations, [we] will be able to offer a broader range of services to meet our customers’ needs.

“Strategically located at the crossroads between several continents, these new destinations will help speed up [the airline’s] development. As we demonstrated recently by shipping humanitarian relief from France to India, CMA CGM Air Cargo enables the group to deliver even more agile, full-service solutions to meet the most urgent needs.”

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