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Photo: Aviator Airport Alliance

Aviator Alliance Airport may go up for sale

Sources say that Aviator’s owner Accent has mandated DNB to sell the Nordic ground handling company.

The Nordic ground handler Aviator Airport Alliance may soon be up for sale, sources familiar with the situation tell the business news and research site Mergermarket.

The Swedish private equity firm Accent Equity Partners, which founded the company by pooling Swedish and Norwegian ground handling services in 2010, has mandated the bank DNB to sell it, the sources said.

The process is at an early stage and marketing material has not yet been distributed, but strategists active in the sector are likely to look at the asset.

These could include ground handling firms like Switzerland-based Swissport International and Scotland-based John Menzies. However, SAS is unlikely to be interested as it aims to exit the ground handling business, said one of the sources.

Investors may assess Aviator Airport Alliance to be risky due to its narrow spread of customers, meaning it would most likely go to a bigger player.

Expansion and cutbacks
Aviator was founded in late 2010 when the Swedish company Nordic Aero merged with the two Norwegian companies Røros Flyservice and Norport Ground Handling.

In April 2011, it expanded with the purchase of the Danish companies Novia and Sturup Handling.

Later, in 2014, Aviator acquired the former Servisair and Swissport operations at London Gatwick, Birmingham and Newcastle in the UK and at Helsinki and the following year added Manchester to its network. But in 2016 it exited the UK airports but retained Manchester.

One reason for the decline in Aviator Airport Alliance’s fortunes in recent years was the acquisition of the Gatwick operations, according to one of the sources. The operations were shut down after Aviator failed to turn the business around.

Earlier in 2018, it was reported that it lost a major client, Air France-KLM, a contract that went to competitor Widerøe Ground Handling instead.

Aviator had a turnover of around €150 million in 2017 and employs more than 2,200 personnel.

It is represented at 17 airports in five countries. The company provides aviation services that include check-in and boarding, loading and unloading of cargo, aircraft pushback, de-icing, glycol recycling and managing passengers with special needs.

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