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Swissport expects losses of up to CHF 15 million worldwide through flight disruptions caused by volcanic ash


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Swissport International, the world’s leading provider of ground services to the aviation industry, expects to incur losses of up to CHF 15 million (EUR 10 million) as a result of the recent disruptions. Although flight restrictions have now been lifted, disruption and cancellations will continue for a number of days as airlines reconstruct scheduled services.

Zurich - Swissport International, the world’s leading provider of ground services to the aviation industry, expects to incur losses of up to CHF 15 million (EUR 10 million) as a result of the recent disruptions. Although flight restrictions have now been lifted, disruption and cancellations will continue for a number of days as airlines reconstruct scheduled services.

No sooner has aviation negotiated an extremely difficult 2009 (for which IATA’s member airlines will post an aggregate loss of USD 6 billion), the aviation industry faced its next major challenge. After a promising start for the first quarter of the current year, the air transport sector was brought to a virtual standstill on 16 April. Overnight, Swissport International found itself faced with flight cancellations throughout the global network as the airspace above Europe prohibited air travel.

As a critical link in the aviation services chain, the cancellation of thousands of flights over a number of days was unprecedented. During this period, the aviation services industry continues to incur almost all of the costs required under normal circumstances, without any of the revenue earned from the delivery of aircraft, passenger and cargo handling services.

Within hours, an Emergency Task Force was formed to initiate key responses and mitigate financial damage. This task was made yet more difficult as ground handling agents are expected to show maximum flexibility and provide optimum care at the airport for the stranded travellers. Cargo also continues to be delivered and collected throughout the period of disruption. Closing warehouses is not an option available, and again, all normal costs are incurred.

These difficulties were also seen by other ground handling service providers, and given the unpredictability of recent events; no amount of forward planning can completely mitigate financial loss. Any repeat of such flight disruption could seriously affect the continued trading of some in our industry, particularly smaller companies without a global footprint.

With its high levels of professionalism and dedication, Swissport has met and mastered the operational challenges of the past few days. However, the financial damage has still been done. Every effort will now be made to ensure that, like the airlines and the tour operators, ground handling companies will also have access to state support to help alleviate these massive revenue declines.

At the same time, we are working diligently with all relevant political and union representatives to seek joint solutions for how personnel hours lost through recent cancellations might most meaningfully be offset. Extremely good progress has been made to date and we thank our staff publically for the positive attitude shown by them all throughout this latest crisis affecting the aviation industry.

Swissport International Ltd., which is owned by Spanish-based Ferrovial, one of the world’s leading infrastructure and service corporations, provides ground services for over 70 million passengers and 2.8 million tonnes of cargo a year on behalf of some 650 client companies. With its workforce of around 32 000 personnel, Swissport is active at 176 airports in 38 countries on five continents, and generated consolidated operating revenue of CHF 1.7 billion (EUR 1.1 billion or USD 1.7 billion) last year.
www.swissport.com / www.ferrovial.com



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