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Supply Chain: Unconventional Moves by Maersk and CMA CGM

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Supply Chain: Unconventional Moves by Maersk and CMA CGM

CMA CGM S.A. is the world’s 3rd largest container shipping company. Pre-pandemic, the only folks paying attention to supply chains were industry insiders and those managing day-to-day logistics. Yet, now that everyone’s goods worldwide have been affected thanks to untenable bottlenecks, supply chains are top of mind. In 2021, traditional shipping companies like CMA CGM needed quick solutions to an ever-growing problem and turned to the air. 

In March, CMA CGM AIR CARGO began deploying 4 Airbus A330-200F to offer a more agile and diversified solution to their customers. CMA CGM is not alone. Rival A.P. Moller – Maersk announced similar intentions in April with Denmark’s second largest airport, Billund, serving as its freight hub for the newly formed Maersk Air Cargo. Maersk currently counts on a fleet of 15 aircraft creating what they hope (along with CMA CGM) will be a one-stop-shop for all client cargo needs – sea or air. 

Maersk’s global head of air freight, Michel Pozas Lucic, mentioned in a phone call with CNBC that customers are so keyed into the supply chain issue that they’re placing increased scrutiny on a quality end-to-end logistics solution. Crisis or no crisis, efficiency remains front and center, and while ocean freight is still highly important, some of the products traditionally moved by sea are simply taking too long. An air option provides companies with an additional tool in their toolbox. 

Another factor driving air diversification is money. Maersk reported free cash flow this year to exceed $19 billion. Awash in cash, the Danish giant is set to purchase 3 Boeing 767s and lease another 4 by November. This will bolster the firm’s Asia-Europe and Asia-US routes while another 2 are set to arrive in 2024. Meanwhile, CMA CGM inked a deal with Air France-KLM to collaboratively share cargo space and is set to buy a 9% stake in the airline. 

A big reason why we’re not seeing similar moves by competing firms is many analysts posit the window has closed. Ocean freight demand has actually decreased over the last couple of months, so the pressure for air options is not what it was. This does not mean Maersk and CMA CGM made poor bets. Over the long run, the diversified play will likely yield greater alignment with existing customers and win them valued new contracts. The most compelling message both companies can communicate to existing or new clients is when the next supply chain crisis comes along (it’s only a matter of time) they’ll surely be prepared.       

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Sustainability continues to underscore operations and initiatives in logistics. Last year, the industry saw even more attention on reducing carbon emissions, specifically for airfreight transportation–from commercial airliners to leading logistics companies. As seen with the maritime industry with IMO 2020, reducing the overall carbon footprint is the primary goal, but the logistics industry is taking a piecemeal approach to cover all bases. Notable companies linking arms to fight the issue of carbon emissions in the airfreight logistics sector include DHL, Yusen Logistics, Bollore Logistics and, of course, CEVA Logistics. In April 2021, CEVA Logistics announced its position on the issue through the joining of United Airlines’ Eco-Skies Alliance as an official partner (along with the other aforementioned companies). 

Known for being the world’s leading supply chain management organization headquartered in Marseille, France, CEVA is no stranger to stepping up in the name of sustainability. As part of parent company CMA CGM Group’s mission, CEVA is committed to acting for people, the planet and responsible trade–and that’s exactly what the logistics company is accomplishing through initiatives such as switching to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), for example. Not only does this move support the Group’s mission, but it also supports collaboration along the supply chain. 

“One long-term benefit and advantage of SAF is that it is a concrete opportunity for shippers, freight forwarders and carriers to work together to improve the air freight industry,” explains Peter Penseel, chief operating officer of Air Freight at CEVA Logistics. “This type of collaboration can extend beyond SAF and environmental topics to ones like safety. As an example, we were recently the first company to receive IATA’s new CEIV Lithium Certification for the safe air transport of lithium batteries, so we’re encouraging other industry participants, whether freight forwarders, ground handlers, or carriers, to support this important safety topic as well.”

The leaders behind the CEVA mission capitalize on what can be done now to reduce problems for the future. This proactive approach differentiates the business from competitors while creating a competitive advantage for customers. This serves as a primary driver behind the CMA CGM Group’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

“The Group aims at becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 and is significantly investing in research and development to help the emergence of future energy sources and technologies to reduce the impact of transport and logistics on the planet,” Penseel adds. “Encouraging the use of SAF in air transport is a direct outflow of this corporate commitment. Whether or not SAF is the long-term answer in air freight logistics, CEVA is taking tangible action today, with an eye on the solutions of tomorrow.”

What some logistics organizations might misunderstand that CEVA does not is the critical blending of customer needs and environmental needs. And in the modern world, it seems all players in the logistics arena are feeling the pressure to support sustainability more now than ever.

“Reducing emissions in the supply chain requires alignment with customers,” said Penseel. “We work alongside them to offer and encourage the right products and services, including alternative fuel options. We must embark on this journey together with a common vision and roadmap. To that end, we are a part of the Sustainable Air Freight Alliance (SAFA), which advocates for responsible transportation. The organization is made up of shipping companies, airlines and freight forwarders that are committed to measuring and reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.”

These changes do not come without their own set of unique challenges, however. Penseel adds that the current infrastructure landscape poses specific roadblocks that could potentially impede progress in the pursuit of carbon neutrality, warning that careful planning and collaboration along each step of the shipping process is critical and shouldn’t be compromised. 

As an air freight industry, we need to be conscious of the production and infrastructure capacities for SAF,” he says. “As we ramp up the use of this alternative fuel, we need to ensure that we can deliver on our commitments. If the industry offers more SAF options, we need to work closely with the entire upstream environment to ensure the needed supply and infrastructure will be there to meet the demand we as an industry are creating.

“Estimating carbon footprint and planning accordingly is the first step toward a more sustainable supply chain. For example, we offer an eco-calculator on our website and through our MyCEVA digital booking platform to estimate the logistics carbon footprint of a shipment via ocean, air, or ground.”

Looking to the future, CEVA has more carbon-neutral tricks up its sleeve. Penseel confirmed the organization is currently discussing additional SAF options and programs with numerous air carriers to confront and resolve near-term environmental concerns. 

2022 has officially greeted the industry with CEVA taking it by the horns with customer and environmental needs at the forefront of its dedicated solutions. The organization capped off 2021 with its latest acquisition of Ingram Micro’s Commerce & Lifestyle Services business, representing another feather in the CMA CGM Group’s hat in the ecommerce planning and omnichannel sectors, further positioning them as leaders in all things shipping and supporting the goal of becoming a name among the top five global third-party logistics players. 

“The acquisition of Ingram Micro CLS is strategic for the CMA CGM Group,” Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and CEO of the CMA CGM Group, said in a December release. “After completing its turnaround this year, our subsidiary CEVA Logistics will accelerate its development and join the world’s top four in contract logistics.”

Customers can continue to look forward to maximizing their opportunities in meeting their own customer needs while playing an active role in contributing to a cleaner, greener and more eco-friendly way of conducting business. 

“We look to help our customers make the best decisions when planning their logistics and freight transport operations to reduce environmental impact as they balance the business and timing needs of their supply chain processes and shipments,” Penseel concludes. 

To learn more about CEVA Logistics, please visit


Peter Penseel is chief operating officer at CEVA Logistics.



In our most recent edition of Dispatches, CMA CGM Group takes efforts in improving sustainable operations by designating a part of its shipping fleet to the U.S. market for use around the end of the year 2022.

Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and CEO of CMA CGM Group, announced in late February that he would dedicate six liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered containerships to the U.S. market as part of the global logistics company’s ongoing efforts to improve air quality and drive forward the energy transition of the shipping industry. Saadé made the announcement at the opening session of TPM,  which is the premier conference for the trans-Pacific and global container shipping and logistics community.

The first of these new vessels is scheduled to be delivered this October, and all ships will be fully operational by the end of 2022, according to CMA CGM. The six 15,000-TEU vessels will be deployed on CMA CGM’s Pearl River Express (PRX) line, which sails from China to the Port of Los Angeles. 

CMA CGM Group currently operates 12  of the LNG-powered containerships, a fleet that will grow to 32 containerships of various sizes by the year 2022, according to the logistics giant, which has an ambitious 2050 objective of carbon neutrality.


SC Ports Kick-Off Thanksgiving with Food for Hungry Families

Volunteers from the South Carolina Ports Authority, the CMA CGM Group, and The Salvation Army of Charleston partnered earlier this week to help those in need for the holidays. As part of CMA CGM’s Giving Across America campaign, more than 80 boxes packed to serve up to 500 meals were successfully distributed to families in the Lowcountry region this week. The meals were specifically prepared for families to enjoy on Thanksgiving and after the holiday is over, according to information released.

“We appreciate CMA CGM spearheading this great initiative and inviting us to collaborate,” SC Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “The pandemic has caused hardships for so many, and it is very meaningful to the SC Ports team to support our community in partnership with the CMA CGM Group and The Salvation Army. We hope these meals provide a little comfort and happiness for families during Thanksgiving.”

In addition to these partnership efforts by CMA CGM Group, more than 10,000 turkeys were distributed along with thousands of additional meals in other cities such as Charleston; Houston; Lake Charles, La.; Los Angeles; Nashville; Norfolk, Va.; and Savannah, Ga. Driven by the ambitious Giving Across America campaign of feeding 35,000+ Americans this Thanksgiving, this represents one of several initiatives taken by CMA CGM Group to support those in need. 

“CMA CGM plays a critical role in driving the U.S. economy forward, and it is an honor to be able to give back to communities across America, especially during such a challenging time,” said Ed Aldridge, president of CMA CGM America and American President Lines North America. “Our partnership with SC Ports and The Salvation Army of Charleston enabled us to bring Thanksgiving meals to those in need in the Charleston region, and it was an honor to do so.”

SCPA has also continued efforts in addressing food insecurity, environmental initiatives, health and education in the state through generous offerings. A total of $22,000 was donated by SCPA to the Lowcountry Food Bank in addition to raising $108,000 for American Heart Association’s 2020 Lowcountry Heart Walk and contributed $128,500 towards the 2019 Community Giving Program.