Dnata acquires controlling interest in Italian ground-handling firm

Emirates Group’s cargo handling division, dnata, is pushing ahead with its European expansion – this time with a 30 per cent stake in Italy’s Airport Handling.

The deal will give dnata a majority representation on the board of the Milan company, and control its day-to-day operations.

Dnata has an option to acquire another 40 per cent of company shares.

In July, dnata acquired the Belgian company Aviapartner’s cargo handling operations at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. It was among its other investments in passenger handling, cargo facilities and catering operations at more than 40 airports across Italy, Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Other purchases by dnata include Gold Medal Services, a unit of Thomas Cook, which it bought for £45 million (Dh250.5m) last year.

Dnata expects to close the Airport Handling deal in November, pending approval from Italian authorities and the European Union.

It declined to disclose the value of the acquisition. Dnata had reported cash reserves of Dh3.1 billion at the end of last year.

Airport Handling, which now has 1,800 employees after starting operations last year, operates passenger and ramp services at Milan’s Malpensa and Linate international airports besides providing baggage and cargo handling services to more than 60 airlines at the airports.

In Italy, dnata already operates catering facilities at 22 airports.

It will retain all the staff of Airport Handling.

“Any acquisition or partnership that we enter has to add value to our business, customers and stakeholders,” said Stewart Angus, dnata’s divisional senior vice president of international airport operations. “Airport Handling’s operations tick those boxes for dnata.”

Last year, Malpensa airport handled about 18 million passengers, up 5 per cent from 2013, according to Assaeroporti, an airport operators’ association. Linate handled about 9 million passengers last year, unchanged from the previous year.


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