Today’s Breaking News shows another coup for Celebi, the Turkish Ground Handler, whereby they announced that they will take over 100% of Aviapartner’s Cargo GmbH, Germany.
It has been rumored in the past months in industry circles that Aviapartner, the Belgian airport handling group has been looking for ways and means to dilute its presence in certain parts of the
European handling arena.
Talks were held during 2013 with Worldwide Flight Services on a total takeover by WFS of Aviapartner. These discussions were said to have been almost completed and that the deal was ready for signature.
Then! everything went quiet and the contract remained unwritten and unsigned.
Aviapartner’s German set-up has been faced with quite some setbacks during the past years. They still have a strong passenger and ramp handling activity in Dusseldorf and Hanover, but the cargo results are said to have been dwindling during the past couple of years.
Operations in Munich were given up some time ago.
Celebi’s takeover in FRA is admittedly only for the cargo operation. But, is this maybe a first step by the successful Turkish entity in moving further into both cargo and passenger activities in Germany.
CargoForwarder Global (CFG) was also informed that this deal also includes the takeover of Aviapartner’s cargo handling operation at Hahn Airport, which is exclusively run for Air France Cargo.
Information received by CFG at an earlier stage stated that Air France intends to issue a new tender in HHN for cargo handling. Whether this will now be the case, remains to be seen.
The official statement issued by Celebi’s German management states that the share purchase agreement was signed today (19. February) and that all legal formalities in order to sign off on the deal will be finalized by the end of this month. The bulletin goes on to say that once sign over is complete, Celebi will inform the market on which material steps they plan to take to ensure the smooth orientation of both company’s employees.
What about the rest of Aviapartner?
The market has been closely following Aviapartner’s strategy since the deal with WFS fell through. Rumors abounded - that the present owners had wanted to get rid of it all - wanted to sell off the complete cargo arm or lastly sell it piece by piece.
Today’s announcement can be translated in many ways. It’s only the FRA cargo which goes!
How does this then fit in with the rest of Germany where passenger operations are still in effect in DUS and HAJ?
Are these, still lucrative market segments on Celebi’s map for the future as well?
Aviapartner still has extensive Passenger, Ramp & Cargo Handling activities in Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands, whereby only the Netherlands and Belgium show a strong cargo handling presence.
Aviapartner’s Belgian and Dutch cargo operations have been under strong competitive pressure for the past couple of years.
Is here the next step for a possible cargo handover?
What about Celebi in FRA?
They have a 15,000 sq m cargo handling facility already in operation since 2010 in Cargo City South.
Adding a further 10,000 sq m plus from Avia brings them into the big league in FRA.
An added bonus of the Avia takeover is that Celebi can now seemingly directly access the ramp with their cargo instead of having to move via the new and expensive “Neutral Transfer Point.”
But which clients are going to fill all of this warehouse space?
Or - which business model will Celebi choose in order to run both facilities profitably?
There are various options open.
use the Aviapartner warehouse only as a throughput section to access to/from the ramp, take out the rather old pallet stacker system and rent out the office space to others.
offer carriers a split operation, whereby import is handled in one and export in the other warehouse.
offer one or the other specific carriers an exclusive handling agreement in the Aviapartner warehouse. This option would not seem to be realistic as Celebi would still be saddled with “Transfer point” costs for the rest.
Last, but not least, what plans does Celebi have regarding staff allocation and possible combination of both handlers “management assets?”
Several questions remain open.
John Mc Donagh