The ownership issue was being negotiated behind closed doors for months. Now Dusseldorf Airport (DUS) and Swissport have announced the result of their merger talks, inked on 17MAR23: According to the accord, Dusseldorf Airport sells 74.9% of its Cargo handling unit to agent Swissport, but secures a controlling minority stake of 25.1%. Name of the new company: Swissport DUS Cargo Services GmbH. The deal is still subject to the approval of the antitrust authorities, but their okay is seen as mere formality by DUS and Swissport.
As consequence of the forthcoming step, the Swissport ground handling facility located off airport will be shut down. Its 30 employees will move on airport into DUS Cargo’s freight terminal,
reinforcing the DUS Cargo local team and leading to a total headcount of 130 staff.
DUS is the center of a strong industrial region
Both parties emphasize that the merger enables them to combine their existing know-how, long-time experience, and wide-spread logistics networks. In addition to this, they point out that DUS is surrounded by a strong industrial catchment area, as particularly demonstrated by the pharma companies doing business there.
Conversely, Swissport is one of the world's largest ground handling actors with a high proportion of air freight business, providing global services based on state-of-the-art technology. It manages a broad global network comprising of 118 stations.
Cargo demand will increase, forecasts Swissport
Thanks to the merger, synergies can be leveraged, the product portfolio further expanded, and cargo processes made more sustainable as well as more efficient, states a combined release. “We are confident that the transfer of technology and the bundling of know-how and resources will enable us to offer the market an even higher level of services,” emphasizes Lutz Honerla, Managing Director of Dusseldorf Cargo GmbH.
Swissport adds to this that the demand for international air freight will increase again in the future as happened pre-Covid 19. “With our involvement in the well-established service provider at Dusseldorf Airport, we are committed to contributing to this growth while at the same time helping to make air cargo processes more sustainable and efficient, and to secure local jobs. The merger brings together the best of both worlds - local meets global expertise,” comments Patrick Kohlmann, Managing Director Swissport Germany & Austria.
Dual leadership structure
Lars Redeligx, CEO of Flughafen Dusseldorf GmbH, speaks of advantages for the airport but also the large catchment area surrounding the site. “With Swissport, we are gaining one of the world's leading air cargo handlers as a partner. This opens up completely new perspectives for our highly qualified and committed cargo team. At the same time, the long-haul services from Düsseldorf are also growing alongside our excellent European network - for example, currently with new connections from Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Delta Air Lines. We look forward to further expanding the air cargo business in Dusseldorf on this basis with Swissport,” emphasizes Dusseldorf Airport’s helmsman.
According to unofficial information, Swissport DUS Cargo Services will be managed by a dual leadership consisting of Lutz Honerla, Head of DUS Cargo and Henning Dieter, CEO Swissport Cargo Services, Germany, and Austria. The companies involved declined to comment.
Following the announcement, we spoke with Lutz Honerla (LH), MD DUS Cargo, about the merger. Here is, what the executive said:
CFG: Swissport is traditionally very strong in the trucking business. What synergy effects can the joint Swissport DUS Cargo Services expect?
LH: Swissport's strong trucking business will enable an excellent expansion of the current service portfolio. We will be able to offer our customers, especially charter customers, not only tailored services on the air side, but at a superior level on the land side as well.
CFG: Does the cooperation start immediately or only after the competition watchdogs have announced their decision?
LH: As you indicate, the cooperation is subject to the approval of the competition authority(ies). We expect the approval in the near future.
CFG: What will be the operational consequences of the merger? After all, the number of ground employees will increase from 100 to 130 staff.
LH: The two cargo handlers will merge into a single unit. This will entail changes in the operational processes. Experts from both companies will be working intensively on future processes over the next few weeks. This also applies, in particular, to the processes associated with the takeover of the freight handling system used at Swissport. I will remain with the company and take care of the integration of the companies. In doing so, we are closely involving all employees based on the applicable co-determination rights.
CFG: Mr. Honerla, thank you for your input.
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