TNT Express has announced a conditional plan to sell TNT Airways and Spain-based carrier Pan Air Lineas Areas to ASL Aviation Group.
“The transfer is conditional on, and will become effective immediately prior to, completion of the proposed UPS-TNT Express merger,” the integrator said in a statement. “The change of ownership and control will ensure service continuity of the TNT Express operations after the completion of the proposed merger, in compliance with EU airline ownership and control rules.”
ASL, which is a joint-venture between Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) and 3P Air Freighters, currently consists of three airlines – Air Contractors (based in Ireland), Europe Airpost (France) and Safair (South Africa) – two support service companies and various leasing entities. It employs 1,200 staff worldwide and has a fleet of 90 aircraft.
Provision is made for ASL to take over all flights performed by TNT Express’s two airlines and for it “to become a key third-party provider of the combined UPS-TNT Express group,” according to the press release. ASL will also be invited to bid for all the combined group’s outsourced air business in Europe when this becomes open to tender.
“This transaction represents a unique opportunity for ASL to be in a position to provide services to the major integrators and assert itself as the neutral provider of airline services to the major express integrators in Europe,” the Dublin-based group said.
TNT Express underlined that it did not expect the airlines’ ownership transfer to impact activities at the group’s hub in Liège for at least a year following completion of the proposed UPS-TNT Express merger. For their part, UPS officials said they have long-term plans for the hub.
The €5.16 billion merger between UPS and TNT Express was slated to close in the fourth quarter of 2012, with the original offer period closing November 9. Before the offer period closed, the European Commission provided both companies with a Statement of Objections, and in a related move, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Market recently extended the offer period for the proposed merger, pushing the proposed deal back yet again.