Published on August 3rd, 2015 | by Jim Lee


Swissport sold to China’s HNA Group

The Swissport Group (‘Swissport’), the world´s largest ground and cargo handling company, has announced that PAI Partners SAS (‘PAI Partners) agreed the sale of Swissport to HNA Group Co. Ltd. (‘HNA Group’), a global enterprise group based in Haikou, China, on 30th July. Swissport will remain as a stand-alone business within HNA Group, complementing HNA’s existing activities including aviation, airport management, logistics and tourism.

Swissport provides ground services for around 229 million passengers and 4.1 million tonnes of cargo a year on behalf of some 700 client-companies in the aviation sector. With its workforce of around 60,000 personnel, Swissport is active at more than 269 airports in 48 countries on five continents and generates consolidated operating revenue in excess of €2.8 billion.

Swissport aircraft unloading

Swissport staff unloading a Swiss A320.

Under HNA’s ownership, Swissport will continue to expand its global footprint and continue to deliver the highest quality and value added services to existing and future customers. On today´s announcement, Swissport Chairman Dr. Thomas Staehelin commented: “We are pleased to become part of HNA Group and to continue to further strengthening our service offering and global network.”

Adam Tan, President of HNA Group, said: “HNA is excited to support Swissport’s world class management team as they continue to provide the highest quality service to the airline industry and their passengers. HNA is committed to Swissport’s future success in the global aviation market”.

Ricardo de Serdio, Partner at PAI Partners: “The acquisition by HNA of Swissport confirms the strategic value of the company as the worldwide leader and best consolidation platform in the still fragmented airport services market. PAI has a long established track record of identifying European companies with international growth potential.”

PAI Partners is a leading European private equity firm with offices in Paris, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Munich and Stockholm. It purchased Swissport in November 2010 and since then Swissport has acquired Servisair from the Derichebourg group. The acquisition of Servisair was announced on 2nd August 2013 and completed on 23rd December 2013.

Swissport checkin

Swissport check-in staff

PAI manages €7.5 billion of private equity assets. Since 1994, PAI has completed 56 LBO transactions in 11 countries, representing close to €39 billion in transaction value. PAI is characterised by its industrial approach to ownership combined with its sector based organisation, PAI provides portfolio companies with the financial and strategic support required to pursue their development and enhance strategic value creation.

The HNA Group is a Fortune 500 Company and a leader in aviation and tourism. It was founded in 1993 and in the past two decades, it grew from a local aviation transportation operator to a multinational conglomerate encompassing aviation, airport management, financial services, real estate, retail, tourism, and logistics. In 2014, HNA Group had revenues in excess of $25 billion (around €22.8 billion); $72 billion (around €65.69 billion) in assets, 11 listed companies, and have more than 110,000 employees worldwide.

The total transaction value for 100% of Swissport, via the holding company Aguila 2 S.A, is CHF 2.73 billion (around €2.57 billion). The transaction is subject to customary regulatory and anti-trust approvals by the relevant authorities. Closing is expected by end of this year.

Swissport’s operations in Ireland


Swissport staff

Swissport Ireland is based in Dublin Airport and it operates ‘stations’ at Dublin, Cork and Shannon, just three of the 192 stations worldwide. The Dublin station provides maintenance, cargo and ground handling services, while Cork provides executive aviation, cargo and ground handling while Shannon provides cargo and ground handling services. Swissport’s Manager at Dublin, Wayne Gough manages a staff of 400 who provide a safe, quality operation to its major airline customers. It’s current customer airlines are, Air Canada, Air Europa, Air France Cargo, American Airlines, Atlantic Airways, Blue Air, British Airways, British Airways City Flyer, Delta Air Lines, DHL, Emirates, FedEx, Germanwings, Iberia Express,, Luxair, Onur Air, Smartwings, Tarom, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways, Transavia Airlines, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines.

In Northern Ireland Swissport provides services at Belfast International Airport and at George Best Belfast City Airport. The Belfast City Station headed up by Nikki Farmbrough, has been operating since December 2004. It has 150 employees and handles some 2 million passengers and 16 776 aircraft per year. Customer airlines are Air Dolomiti, British Airways, Citywing, Flybe, Linksair and Volotea. Station manager at Belfast International is Jean Foster and customer airlines are EasyJet,, Thomas Cook and Thomson Airlines while freight handling services are operated for a wide range of operators.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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