Swissport Expands in Austria

The ground handling agent has teamed up with Graz Airport by forming a Swissport Cargo Services Graz joint venture. It is located on the existing premises of the Airport, thus enabling comprehensive cargo services. According to estimates the station will handle roughly 10,000 tons of air freight annually. Graz is the Swiss agent’s second station in Austria after Vienna Airport. We asked Dirk Schmitt, CEO Swissport Cargo Services Germany & Austria to deliver some specifics on this project.

Dirk Schmitt  /  courtesy Swissport
Dirk Schmitt / courtesy Swissport

Q: Herr Schmitt, why did Swissport decide to invest in Graz? The question comes up because the location is not really known for being a hot spot in air freight up to now.

A: Graz and its surrounding is one of Austria’s fastest growing economic regions and has quite some industry that is depending on air freight handling operations. Swissport is pleased to be able to expand its cargo offering in Austria through this joint venture.

Q: How does the upcoming JV fit into your company’s Austrian strategy?

A: This cooperation fits perfectly into our plans to expand our cargo offering in Austria from Vienna to Graz and beyond that in the future.

Q: Will Graz be a consolidation centre with goods being uplifted predominantly at Vienna Airport or even Munich or are most of the consignments flown directly to or from Graz?

A: The goods handled at Graz Airport are either flown or trucked to/from Graz, while most of the freight is indeed coming from the region. Our focus will be to grow the local market, as Swissport Cargo Services is already well established at VIE and MUC.

Q: In your release you speak of a joint venture with Swissport as majority owner. What’s Graz Airport’s financial commitment?

A: Swissport’s share is 51%. Please understand that we do not comment on any further financial details. Therefore, as per shareholding Swissport will be in the drivers seat. Yet the joint venture company will incorporate the local know-how of GRZ-staff with the global expertise of Swissport.

Q: What’s the overall investment needed to be operational?

A: Please understand that we do not comment on any financial details.

Q: How many employees do Swissport / Graz intend to hire to run the JV?  Does this also include the transfer of Graz staff to the new company?

A: All existing Graz cargo handling staff will stay in the JV company and will run the operations. There are currently no plans to hire a remarkable number of additional employees to support the operations. We expect to hire staff as the market grows and the joint activities develop.

Q: Are there any further cargo handling initiatives planed by Swissport at other Austrian locations, respectively at airports in the neighboring countries (Slovenia, Croatia, and Slovakia?

A: As we demonstrate with this JV in GRZ, our own station in VIE and our contractual partnership in LNZ, Swissport is always open for growth potential through all kinds of specific set-ups. We will be happy to keep you informed on any new locations that might be added to our network.

Interview: Heiner Siegmund

Graz Intends Lifting Cargo to the Next Level
Further to this leading Graz Airport managers emphasized the importance of the cooperation with Swissport for pushing their cargo activities forward. “Over the last months, we’ve had intense talks with Swissport International in order to lift the future of our cargo business on to an even better basis,” explain Wolfgang Malik, Chairman of the Board of the Holding Graz, and Gerhard Widmann, Managing Director of Graz Airport unanimously.  Both managers pointed out that they expect the cooperation will result in an expansion of cargo activities and improve the service quality, all of which would ultimately profit not only Graz Airport but also the economy of Styria State in Austria. 



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