Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings has entered into a long-term charter agreement with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company to operate four of its new B777-200Fs exclusively for the Switzerland-based shipping company under the new MSC Air Cargo brand.

"This strategic partnership with Atlas Air is the 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. Atlas Air's fleet of B777 freighter aircraft is well-suited to support our entry into air cargo, and this strategic initiative will ensure we meet the cargo requirements of our customers," MSC's Chief Executive Soren Toft said.

The first of the four B777-200Fs will enter into service in the fourth quarter of 2022 while the other three will deliver in 2023. They were ordered by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings in January 2022.

The ch-aviation fleets module shows that Atlas Air currently operates a single B777-200F, integrated through the merger of subsidiary Southern Air. Sister carrier Polar Air Cargo operates a further eight of the type.

Other long-term cargo customers of Atlas Air include, DHL Express, Qantas Freight, FedEx, Cainiao, and Magma Aviation.

MSC is not currently active in the air cargo market. The shipping giant partnered with Lufthansa Group to acquire a stake in ITA Airways (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), but their bid was ultimately rejected in favour of private equity fund Certares. Its main rivals, Maersk and CMA CGM, have established their own cargo airlines - Maersk Air Cargo and CMA CGM Air Cargo, respectively - while MSC will rely on Atlas Air's AOC.