Will KLM soon lose control of the cargo business?

With CMA CGM becoming a shareholder of Air France-KLM (9%) and the creation of a shared cargo network, KLM’s independence in the cargo sector seems to be coming to an end and Paris is taking control in that area as well.

Shortly after Air France acquired KLM in 2003 and established Air France-KLM Cargo, the first global cargo alliance had its board of directors at Schiphol Airport, with KLM as a director. It was never clear whether this had been a hard agreement during the acquisition or whether it was an unwritten agreement that gave the acquired KLM a sense of real power through cargo, where it had always been the dominant party.

Not only will the French government (28.6%) and CMA CGM (9%) soon own nearly 40% of the holding company, but Air France Cargo and France Shipping will also provide bulk (18 units) of the future fleet. Consists of 22 freighters.

What the Netherlands and KLM can offer in return is not much. While it is true that the government this week signaled its intention to buy new shares in Air France-KLM as part of an issue for the sum of 220 million euros, that purchase will only ensure that the Dutch state’s stake in the airline group is not diluted from its current 9.3% to around 2%.

The Netherlands remains one of Air France-KLM’s largest shareholders and, in its own words, can “better understand the journey of Air France-KLM,” such as ensuring equal development of hubs at Schiphol and Paris. But real power is not bought that way.