MSC Air Cargo orders 5th B777F; to be operated under AlisCargo AOC

The freighter will operate under the Italian AOC acquired through the acquisition of AlisCargo Airlines

MSC Air Cargo orders 5th B777F; to be operated under AlisCargo AOC
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MSC Air Cargo, the cargo airline launched in September 2022 by container shipping giant MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), will have its fifth Boeing B777 production freighter in the fleet by the end of Q1 2024. The cargo airline will operate the brand new production freighter under the Italian air operator’s licence (AOC) it has got through the acquisition of AlisCargo Airlines. With this MSC Air Cargo will have its second European gateway to be based in Milan.

“We have purchased a fifth aircraft that will be placed within AlisCargo as our own operated aircraft starting by the end of Q1 this year," Jannie Davel, Senior Vice President of MSC Air Cargo, confirmed this in an exclusive interview to STAT Media Group. He was speaking in the latest episode of Cargo Masterminds, STAT Media Group’s popular video interview series, presented by

According to Davel, 2024 will be a year of stabilisation. “We will continue to measure the market. But at this stage, we plan to have five freighters on full rotation by summer 2024.”

Last year MSC completed the acquisition of Milan-based Italian all cargo carrier AlisCargo Airlines. With this acquisition, MSC obtained the most valuable asset, an Italian AOC, allowing MSC Air Cargo to be the first first wide-body freighter operator of Italy.

Davel discussed the airline’s future strategy. He also spoke on some important elements related to the airline. MSC Air Cargo had placed an order for four Boeing 777Fs at the time of announcing the launch of the cargo airline. These four freighters are operated by Atlas Air, an American cargo airline which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide.

There had been delays in the delivery of freighters by Boeing and MSC Air Cargo had to resort to alternate measures to ensure customer promises were delivered. Although the airline had originally scheduled four aircraft for the winter schedule, counting on the arrival of the fourth B777, the delay prompted MSC to temporarily lease a B747 freighter to fulfill customer demand.

“We sub-chartered some aircraft to bridge the gap between Boeing deliveries and enable us to achieve full commercial operation,” added Davel.

MSC took delivery of the fourth B777F in the first week of January this year, delayed by more than a month. Delivery delays were due to disruptions in the global supply chain that impacted plane maker Boeing. However, Davel said that the fourth Boeing 777F is now fully operational.

After several months in development MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company launched its air cargo business as a complementary service to MSC’s container shipping solutions. While launching MSC Air Cargo, MSC CEO Soren Toft said “This is our first step into this market and we plan to continue exploring various avenues to develop air cargo in a way that complements our core business of container shipping.”

In December 2022, MSC Air Cargo launched commercial operations from its European gateway at Liege in Belgium. With the Milan gateway in development and with its own AOC, MSC Air Cargo leveraging its two European gateways with the strength of the operational capabilities of Atlas Air, which is operating four of its B777Fs.

Presently, the airline has not established a complete hub structure; instead, it primarily relies on gateways and transit points. MSC Air Cargo has expanded its reach in its winter schedule to new cities such as Dallas (DFW) and Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Indianapolis (IND), Mexico (NLU), and Quito (UIO) in the Americas while in Asia it operates its service in Hong Kong (HKG), Incheon (ICN), Japan (NRT), Singapore (SIN) and Xiamen (XMN) in China.

MSC Air Cargo has teamed up with the ECS Group to serve as their GSA in North America, Europe, and Mexico. This means that ECS will be responsible for local sales, marketing, and customer service in these regions.

Apart from that, the company has also partnered with IBS Software, a globally renowned company providing SaaS solutions to the travel and cargo industry. The partnership allows IBS Software to use iCargo for the MSC Air Cargo. It provides a wide range of features to cover all aspects of cargo management, including sales and revenue accounting, operational tasks, and cargo tracking. Davel said that it is a very strong partnership and the company launched phase one successfully in June last year now the company is gearing up for a full implementation of phase two which includes the next-gen capabilities of IBS iCargo by Q1.

In December 2022, MSC Group acquired Bolloré Africa Logistics, this gives MSC access to Bolloré's extensive African network.

While MSC Air Cargo handles a wide range of goods, they focus on specific types of cargo based on their strategic objectives, this includes valuable cargo like pharmaceuticals, electronics, and aerospace components and perishable goods like fresh produce.

Davel stated that the company's strategy is based on scale and coverage, and it is very selective in terms of the market. Discussing the current market scenario, Davel noted its challenging nature and underscored the heightened demand for Boeing 777 freighters compared to the four-engine Boeing 747Fs. He emphasised the company's commitment to delivering premium products to customers in a market with several players.

Despite the challenges, Davel expressed optimism, citing a positive overall market sentiment. The company plans to leverage this positivity for continuous growth.

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