Is the Handling Acquisition Carousel Turning Again?

Last week CargoForwarder Global reported exclusively on the possibility of Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and Fraport Cargo Services (FCS) joining forces either in a joint venture or a complete takeover by WFS of the Fraport daughter‘s cargo handling services in Frankfurt.
It seems that the same thing is about to happen northwest of FRA, namely in Brussels and Amsterdam.

Laurent Leveaux
Laurent Leveaux

Therefore, our past prediction that there would be a consolidation of owners in the airport handling world seems to be coming about.

This time it‘s not FCS/WFS but the Dubai based handling giant, Dnata, who is strongly rumoured to be the candidate to take over the remaining Aviapartner activities in BRU and AMS.
Whether Dnata‘s bid is only for the still lucrative Aviapartner cargo handling business at both stations or for the passenger handling as well, remains to be seen.

Aviapartner taken apart bit by bit
The once proud Belgian airport handling entity has fallen on hard times.
Strong competition from the giants as well as revenues which are said to have dropped considerably year by year, have led the management to start selling off the company piecemeal and close or scale down other stations.

The Frankfurt cargo handling set-up was sold to Istanbul based Celebi, who now effectively have ramp access in FRA as well as their own dedicated cargo terminal which was opened in 2010.
Whether Fraport will make it that easy for Celebi to position itself alongside the ramp, remains to be seen.
Here also, it was said that WFS was in the bidding for Avia‘s FRA warehouses, but pulled out at the last minute having not been convinced with the figures.


Loss of interest in cargo handling or erroneous strategy?
Aviapartner‘s Brussels cargo operation which was once almost running the BRU cargo scene has been under pressure for the past years due to Swissport and Worldwide Flight Services expansion there.
The same applies to Amsterdam.
One has to pose the question as to whether the present owners and the management are really au-fait with the European handling scene as it seems that instead of “pressing ahead” in the last two years, they have lost interest.
There has so far been no official reaction from the present Aviapartner CEO, Laurent Leveaux, as to whether the story is true in part or whole.

Dnata is clearly heading for expansion
It is no secret that Dnata is one of the most professional handling entities in the business.
Big in Dubai, but not so present in the rest of the world.
Their UK handling, be it cargo, passenger or ramp, has grown considerably during the past few years under its UK management.
Their past failure to establish themselves in Germany (FRA) is said to have been either because they were not willing to accept only a 41 percent holding in Fraport Cargo Services or alternatively that Lufthansa as a 10 percent shareholder in Fraport, objected to a strong Middle East presence on their home turf.

The handling carousel keeps spinning
So, is it now the Benelux which will be Dnata’s centre of attention?
There is conflicting information at the moment as to whether Aviapartner really wants to sell, or just wants to palm off the cargo business or whether both passenger and cargo handling are up for grabs.
On the revenue side it would seem that the passenger business is the most lucrative, so it would be hard to imagine that Dnata would just go for Avia‘s cargo at BRU and AMS.
Inside sources at Aviapartner are said to have been informed that negotiations are in the final stages with Dnata, but only for the cargo handling business.

We‘ll see what happens.
The consolidation of handling entities continues and the carousel keeps turning.

John Mc Donagh

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