Cargo helps stabilise Swissport in a difficult year

By Damian Brett

Ground handler Swissport saw its cargo volumes drop last year but the sector helped to stabilise the company.

The handler said that its cargo volumes at its 115 warehouses declined by 12.3% year on year in 2020 to 4.1m tonnes. The number of flights handled dropped 59% to 1.7m and passenger numbers fell 68.9% to 82m.

Revenues were down 50%, but the company said that the “rapid recovery of the air cargo segment from mid-2020 contributed positively to the overall result”.

Christoph Mueller, group president and chief executive of Swissport International, said: “Last year has been extraordinarily difficult for the entire sector. Covid-19 has essentially wiped out airline demand for the classic ground services business between March and the end of the year.

“Demand for air cargo logistics was also very heavily impacted but still fared better and helped stabilise the company. For the second half of 2021, we believe a robust rebound could be possible in some regions while other regions will continue to suffer for some time. The speed at which vaccination protection is established at domestic level and on individual continents, as well as entry regulations between countries, will be crucial here – especially for the private travel segment.”

The company pointed out that is was not granted a state bailout, but managed to negotiate with lenders and investors and secure private financing.

Mueller added: “With the company refinanced and under new ownership of US and UK investment funds, our deleveraged balance sheet and cash reserves of around €500m, Swissport is positioned as the partner of choice for airlines as they get ready to turn the page on Covid-19 and embark on what we expect to be a long-drawn-out recovery.”

As of December 21, the lead shareholders of Swissport are investment funds managed by affiliates of Strategic Value Partners, LLC, Apollo Global Management, Inc, TowerBrook Capital Partners, Ares Management, Cross Ocean Partners and King Street Capital Management, LP – all former senior secured lenders of Swissport.

The new shareholders appointed Mueller as Swissport’s future chairman of the board of directors and he is currently serving as interim president and chief executive.

For the interim period until a permanent chief executive is appointed, David Siegel, an aviation industry veteran, is serving as chairman of the board.

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