Swissport sells Copenhagen Handling Biz to WFS

Swissport’s Danish love affair with Copenhagen Airport (CPH) in ground handling lasted only a little more than two years. Launched at Kastrup in July 2012, the entire business unit will now be transferred to Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), Swissport’s fiercest global competitor. Affected by the switch are some renowned cargo carriers that will have to change their service provider.  

Swissport’s flag will soon be lowered at Copenhagen Airport  /  source: Swissport
Swissport’s flag will soon be lowered at Copenhagen Airport / source: Swissport

When approached by CargoForwarder Global Swissport’s VP Corporate Communications Sabine Fernández frankly admits her firm’s Copenhagen engagement has not produced the desired success everybody at Swissport had expected. Last year, 18,000 tons were handled by Swissport at CPH, obviously too little to justify the initial investment and the further financing of activities.
Since results didn’t seem to get any better in the foreseeable future, the ground handler now decided to pull out of the Danish market by selling its unit to competitor WFS.

The deal, which comes into effect on October 1, 2014, includes all activities currently carried out by Swissport’s offspring Cargo Services Denmark ApS as well as all assets. They comprise forklifts, scanners, cargo racks and similar provisions, including the utilization of a leased warehouse of 4,200 sqm that will add to WFS’ nearly 10,000 m² of warehouse space and office accommodation at CPH.



Financial terms remain in the dark
Which price WFS is paying for the take-over Sabine refuses to reveal.
Practically this agreement means that Swissport’s 48 Copenhagen staff will do the same job as they’ve done before by providing handling services for clients like Virgin Atlantic, Air Lingus, Lufthansa Cargo, Swiss, AF-KLM-Martinair Cargo or budget carrier Norwegian. The only visible change: They will be wearing a uniform displaying a different name. 
As result of the arrangement WFS is reinforcing its position as the largest independent ground handler in Denmark, after market leader SAS. 

Handling agent WFS can add 4,200 m² to its CPH floor space /  source: WFS
Handling agent WFS can add 4,200 m² to its CPH floor space / source: WFS

WFS welcomes additional cargo clients
The new agreement with Swissport will take WFS’ total cargo volume at Copenhagen Airport to 100,000 tons a year. WFS’ airline clients at the airport include Singapore Airlines, China Cargo Airlines, Korean Air, British Airways, TAP Portugal, Iberia, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air Greenland, Cargolux and Icelandair.
Marc Claesen, Regional VP North Europe at WFS stated: “Copenhagen has been a big growth airport for WFS since we opened our operation in 2006. This latest investment not only gives us potential for further expansion, it brings more leading international airlines into our portfolio in Scandinavia, that are also customers of WFS elsewhere in our global network.”

Swissport’s Nordic activities remain in limbo
Not affected by the deal are the three Scandinavian ground handling service providers SGH Sweden, SGH Denmark, and SGH Norway. Their majority owner is Nordic airline SAS, with 10 percent belonging to Swissport since September 2013. Originally intended was the complete outsourcing of the entire SAS ground and cargo handling activities in Scandinavia and the gradual take-over of the biz by Swissport. However, this intention was stalled with negotiations to be resumed at the beginning of next year after completion of Swissport’s acquisition and integration of Servisair.

WFS strengthens Milan
Meanwhile, WFS has been awarded the handling concession for a new 5,000 sqm cargo terminal at northern Italian Malpensa Airport. The facility is part of a major investment program to up the airport’s cargo capacity to one million tons a year by 2020. WFS said to move into the hall in early 2016 once the building is completed.

Heiner Siegmund

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