Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and Aviapartner stated (19-Jun-2012) their respective shareholders have agreed to combine the two companies, with Aviapartner to join WFS. The combination will "create the European leader and global second largest player in ground handling services," the companies said. The new group will be controlled by LBO France, WFS' majority shareholder. Shareholders of the new entity will include Aviapartner's shareholders including 3i, which will be represented on WFS' board of directors. The new group will continue to develop the existing brands. Global cargo handling activities as well as passenger handling activities outside Europe will be run under the WFS brand name. The Aviapartner brand will be used for the development of passenger handling activities in Europe. The group will employ approximately 17,000 people and will continue to offer direct and indirect job opportunities in France, Belgium and other countries where it operates. European passenger handling activities will be managed from Aviapartner's head office and historical base in Brussels (Zaventem). The group will be headquartered at WFS' current head office in Paris. Olivier Bijaoui, chairman of the WFS management board will become president of the new entity. Laurent Levaux, president of Aviapartner, will be vice-president of the new entity. The transaction is subject to the prior approval of the relevant competition authorities. [more - original PR]
Worldwide Flight Services and Aviapartner to join forces
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One swallow does not make a spring and nor does a rash of aviation strike news guarantee a turning point for the aviation industry. But the signs are ominous. In the month of Jun-2016 (to 20-Jun-2016), there have been 136 articles on CAPA's website mentioning the word 'strike'. This compares with 81 for the first 20 days of Jun-2015. For 2016 so far (1-Jan-2016 to 20-Jun-2016), the 's' word has occurred in 594 articles – about 20% more than in the same period in each of the past two years. If this rate continues, 2016 could be the biggest year for strike-related articles since before the global financial crisis.
The vast majority of the Jun-2016 articles – 80% – relate to Europe. A significant source is air traffic control disputes, particularly French ATC. There have also been strikes and/or strike threats involving airport workers and ground handlers. Among European airlines, Air France has generated the most coverage for its ongoing dispute with its pilots, and it may also face a cabin crew strike. Lufthansa has not yet faced a strike by its employees this year, but has not yet reached new agreements with pilots or cabin crew after industrial action last year.
History tells us that labour's demands grow as profits rise. The apparent increase in industrial action this year could be a signal of an approaching peak in the airline profit cycle. There are other causes of unrest, such as impending French labour legislation, but the correlation reflects some history.