Warning to Freight Forwarders and Carriers as Checkout Lines Strengthen Airfreight Credentials

Maersk’s global head of airfreight, Ferwin Wieringa, told customers airfreight should be more professional as he outlined some of the plans for the new division.

Mr. Wieringa said Maersk’s air cargo arm plans to triple in size over the next few years and expand its reach to more geographies and verticals.

“We will do this through organic growth, but we will always keep an eye on the inorganic agenda.”

He said: “We were very focused on Asia Pacific and China, and one vertical, primarily, which was retail and lifestyle.

“In the future, and this is what our customers are looking for, we will be able to offer a much wider geographical reach, as well as service in other vertical markets with Senator on board.”

Mr. Wieringa also noted the integrated element of its services and suggested that current air freight offerings in the market were insufficient.

He said: “Air cargo needs to be offered at a much higher level, a more professional level, and that is what we are doing with the expansion of our network through the integration of Senator, but also through the deployment of our own controlled strategy.

“Air freight is a very important part of the supply chain for many customers. The main benefits for our customers are a much more consistent network across the globe.

“The controlled services delivered by Senator, combined with our own growth journey…will certainly improve customer predictability, on-time delivery and consistency throughout the supply chain.”

An interview with McKinsey consultant Ludwig Hausmann, published yesterday in The Loadstar, suggested that Maersk was not looking to compete with major cargo airlines. Consultant Kris Kosmala, responding to the article, noted on social media: “It’s more about providing a logistics service to the changing nature of buying.

“Consumers and businesses have shifted their shopping from brick and mortar to e-commerce…and e-commerce is now more than a $10 gem. Think also of the furnishings of the living room, and… of industrial machinery and spare parts. Maersk correctly interpreted this change and immediately became valuable for e-commerce businesses.

“They can offer door-to-door, encompassing small and urgent (air freight) and large (vessels and containers) in one package. Add in good logistics services, no freight forwarder, and you have a service offering that is hard to beat.

“Add customs and warehousing assets, plus digital, and you can be very selective about who you choose to deal with directly through multi-year contracts. Reward yourself with 30% margins previously recouped by freight forwarders/LSPs.

“That’s what CMA CGM missed, and freight forwarders without assets can’t match. I think Maersk definitely did better than [CMA CGM and MSC].”

Stan Wraight, chairman of consultancy SASI, said the shipping companies’ adventures in air cargo were more complex than McKinsey had portrayed. He pointed out that major ocean freight companies launching new airlines were bolstering their teams with experienced people, while also securing seats on the board of directors of legacy airlines through direct investment, a move that could be game-changing. the air freight market, as the lines deal directly with shippers.

Mr Wraight noted that Klaus-Michael Kuehne, majority shareholder of Kuehne + Nagel with 53%, also owns 30% of Hapag-Lloyd and in April increased his stake in Lufthansa to 10%, becoming the second largest shareholder after the government. German, although he is not (yet) a member of the board of directors.

“Could this investment in Lufthansa be a reaction to the partnership between the German airline and its competitor MSC for the new Alitalia?” he asked.

At the same time, Rodolphe Saadé, CEO of the CMA CGM group, now sits on the board of directors of Air France-KLM. And CMA CGM Air Cargo recently appointed Cathay Pacific Cargo veteran Mark Sutch as Chief Commercial Officer.

“All those [shipping lines] and Mr. Kuehne, with their strong freight experience, have a voice in the C-suite and bring a strong and powerful fret voice,” Mr. Wraight said. “It can be a game-changer. Between them, they have hundreds of thousands of direct BCO contacts, which will shake up these airlines, and we will see a new business model emerge.

“Freight forwarders and other scheduled airlines better rethink their strategy and business plans as things change. You will never be competitive, no matter how big you are as a freight forwarder or scheduled airline, if the one of [shipping line airlines] target your customers.

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