Swissport is not expecting any rapid breakthroughs in its attempts to penetrate the Asian handling market, but it is making steady progress, insists StephanBeerli, its corporate spokesman.
The group started operations in Singapore in February 2006 as the third cargo handler with a 250,000 tonne capacity facility that was built by the Singapore CAA, but which cost Swissport $10m to equip. However, Beerli admits that it is still only handling a few airlines there, and has yet to win the big heavyweight global players it ishoping for.
With Swissport’s large portfolio of carrier customers in other parts of the globe, he is confi dent more carriers will follow in due course, however. “Airlines don’t change handlers overnight, because they are locked into long term deals,” he says. “But for us, Singapore is an important market and while we are not yet at the level of business we want,we will get there.”
Swissport also started up as the third cargo handler in Seoul two years ago, and in July 2006 signed up Jade Cargo International for that operation, as part of a worldwide handling deal with the carrier. However, it has announced no further carrier wins since that date. It has also become the fi rst global handler to have a presence in Japan, in a joint venture at Nagoya airport with the Marubeni Corporation, a Japanese conglomerate. The joint venture won its fi rst customer in late April in the form of Northwest Airlines, though operations are currently limited to passenger and ramp handling. Beerli says there are discussions about extending it to cargo handling, however, and hints that other carriers may soon besigning up.
In India, Swissport signed a joint venture with Punj Lloyd in September, but the two companies are still looking for licences to bid for. Further west, Swissport has won a licence to become the second cargo handler in Tel Aviv, and is building a new facility there which is due to open in 2008. It is already an offl ine handler for Cargo Air Lines of Israel across all of Europe, feeding intoits fl ights in Liege, Belgium.
In February, Swissport became the fi rst cargo handler to gain Cargo 2000 certifi cation, and is busy training staff at its operations worldwide in the implications of the programme. It has also joined TAPA – the Technology Asset Protection Association – and is carrying out a major security audit of all itsstations worldwide.
Across all its handling operations– passenger, ramp and cargo –thecompany saw operating revenue rise 10 percent in the fi rst half of 2007, whichit claims is well above the industry average.A statement adds that the outlookfor the second half of 2007 is “also verypromising”. – Peter Conway