K Line has snapped up French wind power pioneer Airseas, developer of the Seawing kite system.

The Japanese shipping giant confirmed the acquisition, via a new French subsidiary. Financial terms were not disclosed.

K Line said the goal is to “strengthen the development and commercialisation” of the Seawing.

Airseas estimates that the kite technology will enable an average 20% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

K Line has been a keen adopter of the technology and has potential orders for up to 51 units.

In 2019, it ordered its first Seawing system, followed by a second unit in December 2021 and then three more in July 2022.

One of the first K Line ships to be fitted with the Seawing was the Japanese-flagged 212,000-dwt bulker Cape Brolga (built 2021), which operates between Japan and Australia.

K Line’s first experience of the device prompted it to secure options on a further 46 Seawing kites under a 20-year agreement.

Airseas’ wind propulsion technology is said to combine kite technology with expertise from the aerospace industry.

Based in Nantes, France, the company was founded in 2016 by former Airbus engineers.

The first Seawing was installed on Louis Dreyfus Armateurs’ 1,805-lane-metre ro-ro Ville de Bordeaux (built 2004), which is chartered by Airbus to transport aircraft components between France and the US.

In May last year, the technology completed “static” flight tests on board the vessel and the company said the next stage of verification would involve “dynamic” flying.

Chief executive and co-founder Vincent Bernatets subsequently told TradeWinds that Airseas aimed to have delivered 1,000 Seawings by 2032, with its factory having the capacity to produce 250 units each year.