Alternative to shipping: Maersk to increase presence in global air freight sector

2021/11/02 at 10:57 AM

Being the world’s largest shipping line, Maersk is continuing to strengthen its flexibility and agility in global supply chains. One of the company’s key development vectors is to invest in the air freight business. To this end, it will purchase Senator International, the Hamburg-based specialist, and will expand the fleet of Star Air, its own airline focused on moving freight.

“More and more, we are seeing the knock-on effects of the pandemic in the world of logistics with widespread port congestions and production issues. Other factors, such as the Suez channel blocking and the current limitations on inland haulage options, further underline the need for resilience and agility in logistics and supply chains. Coupled with increasing consumer demand, we have received more and more requests from customers for alternative means of cargo transportation,” Maersk shortly explained the main reasons for its planned new acquisition. It is about Senator International, the German freight forwarder with a strong footprint in the air freight sector. Soon, the Hamburg-based company will join the Maersk family and will strengthen its role as a global logistics provider.

Senator International

Senator International was established in 1984 as an air freight forwarder. Initially, the company was highly focused on the German market. At the end of the 1990s, it started to gradually expand its presence worldwide. First, it opened an office in the U.S, then in South America and Asia. Currently, the company’s employees work at 65 locations all over the world. Meanwhile, the true revolution for Senator International began five years ago. “Senator’s own controlled air product started in 2016 and has proven to be a success story. Our customers honour our reliability – particularly in challenging times during the pandemic,” said Tim-Oliver Kirschbaum, CEO and shareholder of Senator.

Star Air’s freighter at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany, source: Raimond Spekking / Wikimedia Commons

According to Maersk, it will pay for the German specialist 644 million U.S. dollars. The price was formed on the basis of the adjusted EBITDA of Senator International. Since the deal needs to be reviewed by the antitrust authorities, it will be finalised only by the end of the first quarter of 2022 if the decision is positive. “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,” added Tim-Oliver Kirschbaum. At the same time, Senator International will deliver to Maersk its Cargo Wise One core operating platform, a dedicated cutting-edge system for air freight and LCL (Less than Container Load) products.

New freighters for Star Air

Furthermore, Maersk is also investing in the acquisition of new freighters as it has been operating its own Copenhagen-based freight airline since 1987. It was incorporated under the brand name of Star Air that is focused on providing air freight capacity for the leading cargo companies and freight forwarders such as UPS, Lufthansa Cargo, etc. Star Air has a fleet of 15 Boeing-made freighters: 11 Boeing 767-200SF, one Boeing 767-300 BCF, one Boeing 767-300 BCF and two Boeing 767-300F.

In the coming years, the number of aircraft will be expanded with five more units. In 2022 Maersk will lease three freighters for Star Air. The two other aircraft will be built and supplied to the airline by Boeing in 2024. “We are now ramping up our air freight capacity significantly and creating a broader network to cater even better for the needs of customers,” said Vincent Clerc, executive vice president and CEO of ocean & logistics at Maersk. Besides purchasing the new freighters, Maersk is also planning to decarbonise its air freight division by implementing SAF-based (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) solutions. This is the next chapter for transforming Maersk’s air freight offer in the future.


  1. Not by the sea alone: new niches for shipping lines
  2. Maersk strengthens its e-commerce footprint

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.