Published on June 5th, 2016 | by Jim Lee


ASL Aviation Group completes the acquisition of TNT Airways and PAN Air

In a statement on 24th May, the ASL Aviation Group, confirmed that it had completed the acquisition of TNT Express N.V. (hereafter TNT Express), consisting of TNT Airways (Belgium) and Pan Air Líneas Aéreas (Spain), four months after the purchase was first announced. The two airlines are to be renamed ASL Airlines Belgium and ASL Airlines Spain, respectively. These acquisitions bring the number of airlines in the Irish based aviation group to nine. The Group’s airlines operate scheduled, ACMI and charter passenger and cargo flights on six continents under its own brands and for a range of global customers. The group also includes a number of aviation support companies and various leasing entities.

ASL’s offer to acquire the two TNT Express airlines was announced on 5th February and was conditional on the intended acquisition of TNT Express, by FedEx. On 18th May, the FedEx offer to acquire TNT was declared unconditional.

In conjunction with the transaction, ASL Aviation Group has entered a multi-year service agreement to operate flights for the new FedEx-TNT combination. ASL Aviation Group will continue to serve multiple airline customers and ASL will maintain the TNT Airways facilities in Liège, Belgium and Madrid Barajas, Spain as the corporate offices of ASL Airlines Belgium and ASL Airlines Spain. TNT Express’ Liège hub (Eurohub) is, however, not part of the airlines’ sale.

580 staff from the two airlines transferred to ASL, as a part of the acquisition, and the total number of global staff in the ASL group is now 2,500, from 51 nationalities. The employees’ current terms and conditions of employment will be respected. There will be no service interruption as ASL Aviation Group has immediately taken over the flights operated by TNT Airways and Pan Air Líneas Aéreas. In addition to continuity of service delivery, this change of ownership and control of TNT’s airline operations ensures compliance with EU airline ownership and control rules.

The addition of the 35 aircraft in the two airlines brings the total ASL fleet to over 130 cargo and passenger aircraft. As part of the transaction, ASL Aviation Group expects that the airlines will maintain contracts with partner contractors, suppliers and airlines, which currently operate an additional 20 aircraft daily, for TNT Airways. This brings the operational fleet of ASL Aviation Group to over 150 aircraft, from ATR42 turbo props, to Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

TNT Airways (Belgium) operates six Boeing 737-300(F)s, OE-IBZ and OO-TNL, plus four of which are leased from Bluebird Cargo, twenty-one Boeing 737-400(F)s – some leased from Bluebird Cargo and Jet Time – four Boeing 747-400(F)s, (two in service for Emirates, OO-THC/D), three Boeing 757-200(F)s OE-LFB, OO-TFC and OO-TFA (plus one leased from Cygnus Air), three Boeing 767-200(F)s (leased from West Air Sweden, and three Boeing 777-Fs (OO-TSA/B/C). PAN Air operates one BAe 146-200(QT) (for TNT Airways) and eight BAe 146-300(QT)s (in service for TNT Airways).

In a comment on the closing of the deal, Hugh Flynn, Chief Executive of ASL Aviation Group said “This is a key strategic step in the continued growth of ASL Aviation Group and I am delighted to welcome the people of TNT Airways and Pan Air to ASL. They have made a huge contribution to their airlines and they have now become valued members of our global family of airlines operating on six continents.”

“ASL has been providing air services to both FedEx and TNT since the early 1990’s and it’s a tremendous privilege now for ASL Aviation Group as an air service provider to play a major role in what these two excellent companies, FedEx and TNT, have built up over many years,” he added.

“We operate in a highly competitive market and our continued growth is founded in our mission to be the preferred neutral service provider and to always exceed our customers’ expectations. We will continue to use our strength and stability to offer the most competitive and the best possible service to all of our customers,” he concluded.

Tex Gunning, CEO of TNT, added; “I wish to thank the employees of TNT Airways and Pan Air for their dedication to serving TNT and its customers. We’re looking forward to a successful cooperation.”


ASL Aviation Group joins the European Regions Airline Association (ERA)

ASL Airlines cabin crew

ASL Airlines cabin crew

The ASL Aviation Group, plus its four European airlines (ASL Airlines France, ASL Airlines Hungary ASL Airlines Ireland and ASL Airlines Switzerland), and two support companies (ACLAS Technics of the UK and ACLAS Global of the UK) and associated entities have become members of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA). In a clear demonstration of support of ERA’s work to advance the cause of Europe’s regional aviation industry, ASL Aviation Group has committed to work with the association.

“We see real value in the work undertaken by ERA and how it benefits the industry in key areas, including the regulatory issues that might be well-meaning but that end up in certain cases being unfair and anti-competitive,” said Colin Grant, Chief Executive, ASL Airlines, Europe.

“ASL’s existing ERA members have been working on these issues with ERA and such is their importance to our industry we felt it was a natural progression to cement our relationship further by adding our Group and other European airlines to the association’s membership,” he continued.

“Regional aviation in Europe needs the strong voice of ERA and as a Group we will assist in whatever way we can to confront the issues that negatively impact our industry in an inequitable and unreasonable manner,” he said in conclusion.

Welcoming ASL’s membership Simon McNamara, Director General of ERA said: “The fact that ASL is adding four companies, including two new airlines, to ERA’s membership is great news and affirmation of its trust in our work on behalf of our members.”

“The ASL Aviation Group has an exciting growth and expansion programme which is mirrored by ERA’s ambitions for both the association and the European aviation market. ERA members are united in their ambitions for a prosperous European aviation industry and adding such an impressive company to ERA’s membership further strengthens and enhances our influence and reach” he added. “Our members represent the entire spectre of the aviation industry and include airlines, airports, suppliers and manufacturers, which gives ERA a unique and valuable insight into this vital market,” he concluded.

ASL Airlines France continues its seasonal route expansion

ASL Airlines France, formerly known as Europe Airpost, operates a range of passenger flights from a number of French cities, offering customers a quality transport service at attractive rates, which is complemented by charter, VIP flights, and corporate shuttles. It also operates cargo services in France and Europe for major international Express operators and postal operators, most notably for the La Poste Group, a contract that was renewed last January.

On 20th April, it announced the expansion of its seasonal passenger route network, with the addition of a new regular service to Oujda in Morocco, from Bastia in Corsica. The route will be served weekly from 6th July to 31st August. Depending on demand, ASL Airlines France hopes to be able to increase the number of flights, and extend the operating season, beyond this year’s two months of the summer holidays. The flight, the 5O963/4 is planned to operate on Wednesdays.

ASL France CEO

ASL France CEO, Jean-Francois Dominiak.

“The opening of the Bastia-Oujda line ASL Airlines France strengthens our network of regular routes connecting regions and maintaining important economic, tourist and cultural exchanges. The timing of the service during the peak months and the particularly attractive prices offered by ASL Airlines France on this new route have been designed to respond efficiently to the needs of our passengers”, said Jean-Francois Dominiak, CEO of ASL Airlines France. The airline is also serving Oujda from Paris-CDG, twice a week, from 7th July to 2nd October 2016.

The airline has also commenced its seasonal Hamburg flights to Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille at the beginning of May, previously announced in January. The new routes meet the increasing demand for direct air links between major European cities. “The frequencies and schedules of our flights are aimed both at business clients and a leisure clientele; So we are confident in the success of these routes” added Monsieur Dominiak. These five routes are complemented by the following services:-

  • Paris CDG – Calvi
  • Paris CDG – Dublin
  • Paris CDG – Halifax
  • Dublin – Halifax
  • Bordeaux – Vienna
  • Toulouse – Vienna

ASL Airlines route map

ASL’s fleet

ASL Ireland's Boeing 737-300 EI-STA (IMG0778 JL)

ASL Ireland’s Boeing 737-300 EI-STA. Jim Lee.

Looking first at ASL Airlines Ireland (formerly Air Contractors) fleet, the airline continues to operate its single Boeing 737-31S, EI-STA on passenger charters. At the beginning of June it was noted operating charters out of Dublin to Bourgas, Dalaman, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Mahon, Naples, Palma, Reus, Salzburg and Verona. The aircraft also operated an interesting one-off charter on 1st April, from the Isle of Man to Tenerife via Dublin on the outbound leg, due to runway length at Ronaldsway Airport. The return charter the following week operated direct Tenerife to Isle of Man.

ASL Airlines will reportedly be operating two weekly charter round trips to Tel Aviv from Dublin, Shannon, Cork and Belfast, for Marian Pilgrimages, with effect from 1st October 2016. We understand that these flights will be operated non-stop, which is outside the range capabilities of EI-STA. The company is looking at a more capable replacement, with the Boeing 737-800, being the favourite choice.

ASL Airlines B757 EI-CJX on lease to Aer Lingus (M. Nason)

ASL Airlines B757 EI-CJX on lease to Aer Lingus. Malcolm Nason.

The other significant operation for ASL Airlines Ireland is the Aer Lingus Boeing 757 transatlantic contract. The fourth aircraft for this contract has now entered service. Boeing 757-2Y0, EI-CJX ex N135CA (c/n 26160), which was restored to the Irish register on 19th November last, was rolled out of the Eirtech Aviation hangar in full Aer Lingus colours on 16th March, with the name ‘St Boice/Buithe’. It had entered the hangar eight days earlier on 8th March. It then re-entered the Atlantic Aviation Group hangar for further work. On 13th May, it had a test flight and entered service on the morning Shannon – Boston service, operating the EI135.

The ASL fleet of Boeing 757s are being retrofitted with new Thompson Aerospace Business Class seats. EI-LBT, was the first, entering the hangars at Shannon, on 8th January. It returned to service on 17th February, operating the EI135 to Boston, having been reconfigured with the new seats. It now has four rows in a 1-1/2-2/1-1/2-2 configuration, although capacity remains at 12J/165Y. The second to be modified was EI-LBS. It entered the Atlantic Aviation hangar on 17th February where the work was carried out as part of the annual C Check. EI-LBS was test flown on 1st March and positioned Shannon – Dublin on 2nd March, as the EI991. Finally, EI-LBR arrived in Shannon and entered the Atlantic Aviation hangar on 2nd March. It was test flown on 15th March and returned to service on 16th March operating the EI111, Shannon – New York JFK.

ASL Boeing 737-476(F) EI-STI (PQ)

ASL Boeing 737-476(F) EI-STI at Dublin. Paul Quinn.

ASL Airlines Ireland has largely disposed of its fleet of Boeing 737 freighters. The last of these, Boeing 737-476F, EI-STC, arrived in Shannon on 26th February for maintenance in the ASL Airlines hangar and transferred to ASL Airlines Hungary, as HA-FAZ. The ex-Qantas aircraft (VH-TJU) was delivered to Air Contractors on 28th December 2012 on lease from Bank of Utah. Following transfer, ASL titles and logo were added on the forward fuselage, and it departed out to Budapest on 17th March. Another ex-Qantas aircraft (VH-TJJ), EI-STI, was transferred to ASL Airlines Hungary on 4th September 2015, as HA-FAW. Boeing 737-476(SF), EI-STB, was delivered TNT Airways as OE-IAJ, on 1st September 2015, while EI-STD suffered substantial damage in a landing accident at East Midlands Airport, near Nottingham on 29th April 2014. Boeing 737-4Y0 (SF), EI-STE was delivered to Swiftair as EC-MAD on 10th February 2014, while EI-STF is now with ASL Airlines France as F-GIXN, having been delivered to Europe Airpost on 23rd December 2013. EI-STG is also with TNT Airways as OE-IAF, having been delivered to Europe Airpost, as F-GIXU, on 30th December 2013. Finally, Boeing 737-429(F), EI-STH, is also with ASL Airlines Hungary as HA-FAY, having been delivered on 29th November 2015.

The ASL Aviation Group has signed a contract with Aeronautical Engineers Inc., to provide three 11 pallet position Boeing 737-400SF freighter conversions, for re-delivery to ASL, this summer. One of these is Boeing 737-4Y0 (c/n 25177); last operated by Eastern Skyjets, as A6-ESF, but which started out as G-OBMM, with British Midland Airways. It was registered N760SL to Bank of Utah Trustee on 18th December 2015, after lease return. The aircraft is being converted at Commercial Jet’s Miami facility and is due for delivery as EI-EMY. The other two are ex Safair aircraft, Boeing 737-4Y0s ZS-JRD (c/n 24917) and ZS-JRE (c/n 26065). All have previously been Irish registered, N760SL as EI-EMY, ZS-JRD as EI-JRD and ZS-JRE as EI-JRE.

ASL Airlines (Switzerland) ATR72-202F HB-AFX (M. Nason)

ASL Airlines (Switzerland) ATR72-202F HB-AFX. Malcolm Nason.

Looking to other types, following the repainting of ATR72-212A, HB-ACE, which is part of ASL Airlines Switzerland fleet of 13 ATRs, another, ATR72-202F, HB-AFX, arrived in Shannon in Farnair colours, on 7th March. It was repainted into ASL Airlines colours by Eirtech Aviation and rolled out on 16th March. It departed to Cologne the following day.

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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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