La meridionale CMA CGM

CMA CGM to build methanol-ready ships for La Méridionale as part of Mediterranean’s green corridor

French CMA CGM Group has finalized the acquisition of La Méridionale, a mixed-use freight and passenger shipping company established in Marseille since 1931.

Image credit: CMA CGM

The acquisition marks a significant step for CMA CGM as it expands its specialized shipping operations and bolsters its decarbonization efforts.

La Méridionale runs scheduled services to Corsica and has four ro-pax vessels, which operate up to 13 weekly crossings between Marseille, Porto Vecchio and Ajaccio, plus connections between Marseille and Morocco.

The acquisition of La Méridionale complements the new division of the CMA CGM Group dedicated to specialized shipping operations. The division encompasses the new car carrier business, the stake in French-flagged passenger and vehicle shipping operator Brittany Ferries, as well as the investment in NEOLINE, a Nantes-based company developing the first sail-powered ro-ro vessel.

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With the aim of establishing one of the first “green corridors” in the Mediterranean, CMA CGM plans to invest in modernizing La Méridionale’s fleet to enhance energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact. As part of this initiative, the company intends to order two new LNG-powered vessels that can also operate on methanol, showcasing top-tier environmental performance in the sector.

They will also be able to carry out operations with zero CO2 emissions during port calls and are set to replace the oldest vessels on services between Corsica and Marseille, contributing to the preservation of the environment between the island and the mainland.

CMA CGM said that the fleet’s modernization will introduce quieter and more comfortable ships, ensuring an enhanced journey for travelers. Furthermore, the company plans to improve the boarding experience in Marseille, upgrade onboard telecommunications equipment, and digitize the customer experience.

Employment and training opportunities

Lastly, the CMA CGM Group will seek to maintain the expertise of the approximately 600 employees involved in looking after La Méridionale’s customers at sea and on land.

Namely, La Méridionale has one of the largest contingents of French seafarers operating under the French flag (first register). To achieve this goal, CMA CGM has committed to forming 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. 

La Méridionale will introduce a plan to promote members of front-line staff into officer roles by validating the experience they have gained and running special maritime training programs.

Lastly, CMA CGM said that career opportunities will also be offered to young officers on deep-sea routes operated by CMA CGM’s fleet.