Giant logistics group, CMA CGM has finalised the acquisition of La Méridionale, a Marseille-based freight and passenger shipping company, which has been in operation since 1931.
As the leading shipping company running scheduled services to Corsica, La Méridionale currently has four ro-paxes, which operate up to 13 weekly crossings between Marseille, Porto Vecchio and Ajaccio, plus connections between Marseille and Morocco.
The La Méridionale acquisition complements the new division of the CMA CGM Group dedicated to specialised shipping operations.
This division encompasses a new car carrier business, a stake in Brittany Ferries, as well as an investment in NEOLINE, a Nantes-based company developing the first sail-powered ro-ro vessel, and latterly La Méridionale.
CMA CGM said that the plan for La Méridionale is to provide one of the first ‘green corridors’ in the Mediterranean. To that end, the Group will invest in modernising the shipping company’s fleet to improve energy efficiency and reduce its environmental impact.
The Group also intends to place an order for two new LNG-powered vessels, which will also be able to run on methanol.
They will be able to operate with zero CO2 emissions during port calls and will replace the oldest vessels on services between Corsica and Marseille.
The fleet’s modernisation will also significantly enhance the passenger experience on La Méridionale, with quieter and more comfortable ships, CMA CGM added.
This will also involve an overhaul of the boarding experience in Marseille, upgrading on board telecommunications equipment, and the digitalisation of the customer experience, with a revamped e-commerce offering.
To enhance the appeal of Corsica as a destination, CMA CGM has also committed to develop La Méridionale’s tour operating activities, promoting the local ecosystem and sustainable tourism.
Finally, the Group will seek to maintain the expertise and commitment of the around 600 employees involved in looking after La Méridionale’s customers at sea and on land.
Since La Méridionale boasts one of the largest contingents of French seafarers operating under the French flag (first register), it needs to remain at the vanguard of efforts to train crew in France.
To achieve this goal, CMA CGM is to form a partnership with the Lycée Maritime et Aquacole high school in Bastia, thereby offering young seafarers in Corsica the opportunity to access a job upon completing their studies.
To boost the upward mobility of young seafarers, La Méridionale will promote members of front-line staff into officer roles by validating the experience they have gained and running special maritime training programmes.
Lastly, career opportunities will also be offered to young officers on deepsea routes operated by CMA CGM’s containerships.