A.P. Moller-Maersk acquires air forwarder, leases and buys freighters

Star Air (Maersk)
A Star Air B767-200F at Cologne Bonn Airport. Photo by Raimond Spekking.
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A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line announced today it intends to acquire Germany-based air freight forwarding company Senator International, as well as acquire air cargo freighters.

Maersk says it aims to increase its presence in the global air cargo industry in order to “better cater to customers´ needs”.

To expand its own controlled air network Maersk is adding three leased B767-300 freighter aircraft through Cargo Aircraft Management, the leasing arm of ATSG, to be operational from 2022.

Maersk is also purchasing two new-build B777Fs to be deployed by 2024.

To operate and manage this added capacity, the cargo airline Star Air – the internal air cargo operation of Maersk established in 1987 – will become a key vehicle supporting Maersk’s logistics offering, it said.

Maersk’s ambition is to have approximately one-third of its annual air tonnage carried within its own controlled freight network.

This will be achieved, it says, through a combination of owned and leased aircraft, replicating the structure that the company has within its ocean fleet. The remaining capacity will be provided by strategic commercial carriers and charter flight operators.

Senator International is a company Maersk notes has a “renowned operational air freight platform” of own controlled capacity and operations across Europe, Asia, South Africa, and America. The carrier operates nineteen weekly flights across its network.

Senator operates a significant part of its business through a dedicated air bridge with own controlled capacity. This focus on own controlled capacity is highly aligned with Maersk´s air freight strategy, the Danish logistics giant said.

“As a global provider of integrated logistics, Maersk is improving the ability to provide a one-stop-shop and end-to-end logistics capabilities to our customers,” said Vincent Clerc, executive VP and CEO of Ocean & Logistics, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

“We have strengthened our integrated logistics offering through E-commerce logistics acquisitions, tech investments, expanding our warehouse footprint, and as a natural next step, we are now ramping up our air freight capacity significantly and creating a broader network to cater even better for the needs of customers,” Clerc added.

Senator was founded in in Hamburg in 1984 by Uwe Kirschbaum and has since grown to a sizable global freight forwarder. Senator’s own controlled air product started in 2016 and has proven to be a key part of the forwarder’s success story.

“Our customers honour our reliability, particularly in challenging times during the pandemic,” says Tim-Oliver Kirschbaum CEO and shareholder at Senator. “By joining Maersk, we strongly believe that we will be able to deliver an even broader portfolio with own controlled air capacity as well as also in other modes of transportation.”

The German company brings a technology advantage with its Cargo Wise One core operating platform, a cutting-edge yet easy-to-use single system that will accelerate the integration with Maersk’s Air and LCL (Less than Container Load) products.

The enterprise value of the transaction is approximately USD 644 million. The transaction is subject to closing conditions including regulatory approvals and is expected to close in H1 2022.

“We are delighted to welcome Star Air to the Boeing family of 777 operators and we look forward to many years of partnership as they continue to grow their air cargo division,” said Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s senior vice president of Commercial Sales and Marketing.

Senator is a leading German freight forwarding company owned and led by the Kirschbaum family who founded the company in 1984. Senator has +1,700 employees across a global network with 64 offices in 21 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

It operates across three segments: air freight (65 per cent of 2020 revenue), ocean freight (30 per cent of revenue) and logistics & packaging (5.0 per cent of revenue).

The primary vertical is automotive, with established and growing exposure within industrials, technology and pharmaceuticals. In 2020, Senator realised revenues of USD 730 million.

Star Air, meanwhile, was established by A.P. Moller – Maersk in 1987 and currently operates a fleet of 15 aircraft: 12 B767-200 SF’s, one B767-300BCF and two B767-300F. Star Air is headquartered in Dragør, Denmark, at Copenhagen Airport.

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