Saudia Cargo to Abandon Aviapartner

Bitter news for cargo handling agent Aviapartner - Saudia Cargo has decided to quit using the Belgian firm’s cargo handling services, sources say. Swissport seems to be the company which will be awarded the new handling contract.

Saudia's sign should soon be removed from Aviapartner's warehouses  / source: hs
Saudia's sign should soon be removed from Aviapartner's warehouses / source: hs

Losing Saudia Cargo as client could well be the final nail in the coffin of Aviapartner’s cargo business. According to information obtained exclusively by CargoForwarder Global, the Arabian carrier has decided to leave its handling partner at three major European airports - Amsterdam and Brussels. There, tender-winning Swissport will soon replace Aviapartner and take over the carrier’s ground handling business. Although when asked by CargoForwarder Global Swissport’s Head of Global Cargo Nils Pries Knudsen stated that a final decision has not been made so far.
Despite his contention, Saudia’s decision to exit Aviapartner has long been decided. “This is a huge blow for the ground handler, endangering their entire existence as a provider of cargo services,” commented a person close to the case.

Thoughtful words indeed, since Saudia has been one of the few remaining key customers of Aviapartner as both the flight schedule and the transport capacity offered by the airline prove.
For instance, Brussels is served by up to nine times weekly with 747F equipment, with Amsterdam counting five or six Saudia freighter flights each week, depending on aircraft availability and market demand. Handling these imports and exports by Aviapartner will soon also be part of the past.

Aviapartner at Brussels Airport / source: hs
Aviapartner at Brussels Airport / source: hs

Where does all this now leave Aviapartner's “cargo handling product”?
It was only a week or so ago that we exclusively reported on Celebi’s takeover of Aviapartner Germany's cargo division. This was sold by Aviapartner for as little as €4.6 million. A small amount when one considers the lucrative FRA location and the Air France handling biz at Hahn Airport.
Does all this mean that Aviapartner now “will have to decide” to sell off its cargo arm in total due to an urgent need for cash and massive loss of revenue in BRU and AMS due to Saudia’s decision to be handled by what they would see as a safer and longer lasting handling agreement?
Aviapartner discussions with Worldwide Flight Services which were held last year, broke down at the last minute, allegedly due to projected revenues being too low.
Will WFS come back into the ring now or will Celebi be a faster mover and supplement their newly acquired Aviapartner German operation with the rest of Avia’s cargo setup?  
There is still of course, Swissport, who only recently acquired 100% of Servisair, the UK handler. Would Avia’s BRU/AMS cargo operation fit in?

The handling consolidation process seems to be getting off to a “fast start” in 2014.

Heiner Siegmund  /  John Mc Donagh


Correction statement

CFG, in it's February 28th edition mistakenly stated that Saudia Airlines handling in Paris CDG was with Aviapartner.

This is not correct, it is presently with Worldwide Flight Services (WFS).

Our apologies to WFS