Maersk makes $1bn air freight push as supply chain crisis lifts profits

Maersk is spending more than $1bn to push deeper into air freight, as the world’s largest container shipping group and one of the biggest winners of the global supply chain crisis looks to strengthen its logistics offering. The Danish group is buying Senator International, a German freight forwarding company that […]

Maersk is spending more than $1bn to push deeper into air freight, as the world’s largest container shipping group and one of the biggest winners of the global supply chain crisis looks to strengthen its logistics offering.

The Danish group is buying Senator International, a German freight forwarding company that is strong in air cargo, in a $644m deal. It is also leasing three new aircraft from next year and buying two more in 2024.

The acquisition came as Maersk on Tuesday released third-quarter results that underlined how the group has benefited from the sky-high freight rates unleashed by the supply chain crisis.

Revenues rose two-thirds from the same period a year earlier to $16.6bn while operating profits almost quintupled to $5.9bn. Maersk had already boosted its profit guidance for this year for the third time in September.

Maersk was expecting earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation of about $6bn-$7bn in the fourth quarter, and said it expected to make the same in the first quarter of next year, although it warned that uncertainty was higher than normal.

Explaining the acquisition of Senator, Vincent Clerc, chief executive of ocean and logistics at Maersk, said “we have strengthened our integrated logistics offering through ecommerce 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”.

Maersk has had its own air freight operations since 1987 and its Star Air subsidiary operates 15 aircraft. The Danish group aims to carry about one-third of its air freight tonnage using its own network, with the remainder carried by commercial carriers.

About two-thirds of Senator’s business is air freight, and the German group has 19 weekly flights in its network.

“In the ongoing exceptional market situation with high demand in the USA and global disruptions to the supply chains, we continued to increase capacity and expand our offerings to keep cargo moving for our customers,” Maersk chief executive Soren Skou added.

The group also announced it would extend its share buyback programme by $5bn for 2024 and 2025.

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