MSC has bought a majority stake in Italian air freight carrier AlisCargo Airlines with plans to acquire the entire airline.

MSC expects to acquire 100% of the Milan-based carrier at the beginning of 2024, once AlisCargo Airlines takes delivery of a Boeing 777F.

The shipping company said the majority acquisition is a step in developing MSC Air Cargo operations, creating a European gateway and transit point for its air freight business.

The transaction supports MSC Air Cargo’s aim to expand its existing trade lane network with better coverage and flexibility.

MSC Air Cargo senior vice president Jannie Davel said the acquisition would help expand MSC’s air cargo capabilities.

“I am equally proud that we have found a partner that shares a common vision with us and has built a strong foundation for which we hope to further develop,” he said.

The majority selling party is represented by the Leali Group, led by Domenico Alcide Leali who launched AlisCargo Airlines in 2019.

“I am proud to see a group like MSC entering as a major shareholder of AlisCargo Airlines and developing further the project that Leali Group has initiated,” AlisCargo Airlines general manager Giacomo Manzon said.

“I am thankful for MSC’s trust in us, and we will work hard together to make it a success story.”

MSC said its air cargo business has been building up its air cargo offering through strategic partnerships with sales agents and software providers.

MSC Air Cargo intends to complement MSC’s core shipping services. It operates two aircraft managed by Atlas Air Worldwide between Europe, Central America and Asia and plans to add two more in the next six months.

Following the completion of the operation, MSC Air Cargo would have a new operating license and a fleet of five wide-body aircraft within the next 12 months.