Liner giant Mediterranean Shipping Co has emerged as the latest liner operator to develop its own aviation network.

The Geneva-based company is scheduled to take delivery of the first of four of its own-branded Boeing 777-200 freighter aircraft early next year.

The new operation, MSC Air Cargo, has been under development for several months and will be available from early 2023, the company announced.

“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,” said MSC chief executive Soren Toft.

The 777-200Fs will provide dedicated airfreight capacity and will serve as a complementary service to MSC’s container shipping solutions.

The aircraft will be operated by Atlas Air, a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, under a long-term aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) agreement.

MSC follows its European rivals CMA CGM and AP Moller-Maersk which have already moved into the aviation sector.

France’s CMA CGM established an air division, CMA CGM Air Cargo, in February 2021. Last year, the French line bought four freight planes last year to complement its shipping services.

In April, Maersk announced Maersk Air Cargo as the company´s main air freight offering.

MSC has appointed Jannie Davel — a 30 year veteran of the aviation sector —to develop its air cargo business.

Davel previously worked with Emirates SkyCargo, DHL, and most recently with Delta Cargo based in Atlanta, Georgia.