Swedish cargo carrier West Air to merge with UK's Atlantic

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Swedish freight carrier West Air Europe is to merge with UK counterpart Atlantic Airlines, creating a new regional cargo airline named West Atlantic.

The merger will be achieved through a share-swap between the private owners of the two companies, although the carriers have yet to disclose further details.

West Air, which has Swedish and Luxembourg divisions, is the largest operator of British Aerospace ATP freighters. Its fleet also includes two Bombardier CRJ200s and an ATR cargo aircraft.

Coventry-based Atlantic Airlines emerged from a management buy-out from the Air Atlantique Group in 2004. Like West Air it operates several ATPs, and also has Lockheed Electra aircraft.

West Air's Gothenburg base will be the administrative headquarters of the combined company, which will be headed by West Air chief Gustaf Thureborn.

"We have joined forces to create this major new business as we wish to be the finest provider of efficient, cost-effective and reliable regional cargo airline services in Europe," says Thureborn.

Although the two companies will continue to trade separately, Thureborn says the deal will enable the companies to spread their risk and achieve greater economies of scale.

Areas such as maintenance will be centralised. West Air has established a maintenance facility on the Isle of Man.

West Atlantic will have a total fleet of 50 aircraft, including 41 ATP freighters and six Electras, and a combined turnover of €125 million ($162 million).

The two carriers consider themselves complementary, each with a strong presence in its respective postal market and with separate customers in the integrator sector.

Atlantic Airlines managing director Russell Ladkin becomes the sales and operations director at West Atlantic, whose five-member board will also include chairman Goran Berglund, managing director Tony Auld and non-executive director Jorgen Arnemar.