Swissport pulls out of ground handling in France

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Swissport is selling its French passenger ground handling operations under a management buyout deal, after it decided to focus its activities in France on cargo.

The Zurich-based group has arranged the sale of two divisions – Swissport France Holding and Servisair France – to GH Team, a company formed by senior executives Christophe Le Borgne and Adrian Melliger.

Le Borgne is chief executive for Swissport’s France activities, while Melliger has until “very recently” been senior vice-president for the group’s business in southern Europe, says Swissport.

Melliger made the buyout offer and will co-chair GH Team together with Le Borgne.

The sale covers the passenger ground handling activities of Swissport and Servisair in France – including a separate station at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport – and the group’s “Heracles” unit.

But Swissport will retain its cargo-handling business in France and a division at Nice airport that caters for executive aircraft.

“It lately was difficult for our ground handling operations in France to be profitable, and efforts to turn the station back into profitability have not been as successful as planned,” says Swissport International senior vice-president Dany Nasr.

While the group is a “responsible economic player” that was focused on finding on a “satisfactory solution”, Nasr says the bid by GH Team combines “all the necessary conditions: a solid business plan, and strong knowledge and expertise”.

A year ago, Swissport bought Servisair from France’s Derichebourg group. At that time, Servisair handled around 106 million passengers and 645,000t of cargo per annum with 15,000 employees across 118 locations in 20 countries. Swissport handled 118 million passengers and 3.5 million tonnes with 40,000 staff members across 180 stations in 38 countries.