December 2014: Dublin-based, the (ASL) Aviation Group (ASL) has acquired Switzerland’s Farnair Group (TUL), increasing the number of affiliate airlines in the group to 7, with an operational fleet size of >100 airplanes.
(ASL), which already includes South African affiliate Safair (SFA), the largest operator of civilian Hercules for the United Nations (UN) and its low-cost arm, FlySafair (SFA), now has 5 airlines operating in Europe and Africa, as well as 1 each in SE Asia and India.
(ASL) (CEO), Hugh Flynn said the (ASL) network of airlines would “considerably strengthen its position as the neutral provider of airline services to the major express integrators on a global scale.”
He pointed out that (ASL) had remained profitable and continued to grow throughout the last few years of recession. “The Farnair (TUL) acquisition reflects our ongoing strategy to grow both geographically and through asset procurement,” Flynn said.
Located in Basel, Farnair Switzerland (TUL) (was established 30 years ago and now operates a fleet of 20 cargo and passenger airplanes. It also has a subsidiary, Farnair Hungary (TUL), based in Budapest and two joint-venture (JV) platforms in Quikjet India and a 45% share in K-Mile Asia (KMI). Three additional subsidiaries include specialist service providers in airplane handling, training and rail logistics.
(ASL) said its acquisition of Farnair (TUL) would “combine the strengths of the two aviation groups.”
Air Contractors (HCA), (ASL)’s Dublin-based airline, operates express integrator services throughout Europe and in the Far East, and also operates Boeing 737 and 757 passenger services.
The group’s French airline, Europe Airpost (EUE), operates 737 cargo and “quick change” airplanes for European post offices and international express integrators. It also operates scheduled and charter passenger flights.
(ASL) is a joint venture (JV) between (CMB) (51%) and (3P) Air Freighters (49%). In 2013, it reported turnover of nearly €325 million/$403 million, which is expected to increase to more than >€400 million following the Farnair (TUL) acquisition.
June 2015: Air Contractors (HCA), Europe Airpost (EUE), and Farnair (TUL) to rebrand as (ASL) Airlines - - "ASL-2015-06 - New Livery on 737."
Dublin-based, the (ASL) Aviation Group (which holds 7 air operator’s certificates (AOC)s in Europe, Asia, and Africa) will unify its 4 European carriers under "(ASL) Airlines" branding.
February 2016: The (ASL) Aviation Group has signed a conditional agreement to buy 2 cargo airlines owned by (TNT) Express (TNB), which is itself being acquired by FedEx (FED).
(TNT) Express (TNB) is being acquired by (FED) and, if the deal succeeds, (TNT)’s Belgian airline (TNT) Airways (TNB) and its Spanish carrier Pan Air Líneas Aéreas will have to be divested due to airline ownership regulations.
As reported by (ATW) last November, the (ASL) Aviation Group was always a likely candidate to acquire the two airlines. This is because the (ASL) Aviation Group was on track to acquire (TNT) Airways (TNB) and Pan Air (PNZ) in 2012, when United Parcel Service (UPS) launched a takeover bid for (TNT) Express. This deal ultimately failed on competition grounds, thwarting (ASL) Aviation’s plans to acquire the cargo carriers.
(TNT) Express said it has now agreed to sell (TNT) Airways (TNB) and Pan Air (PNZ) to (ASL) Aviation for an undisclosed sum. However, once again, this sub-deal is conditional on FedEx (FED)’s acquisition of (TNT) Express going ahead.
“The change of ownership and control of (TNT)’s airline operations will ensure continuity of service delivery as well as compliance with (EU) airline ownership and control rules. It is another step towards closing of the FedEx (FED) offer to acquire (TNT),” (TNT) Express said.
(ASL) Aviation (CEO), Hugh Flynn described the acquisition of (TNT) Airways and Pan Air (PNZ) as a “key strategic step” for his company’s growth, with (ASL) Aviation acting as a “neutral aviation services provider” for the FedEx (FED) - (TNT) combination.
Under the plan, (ASL) Aviation will take over (TNT) Airways and Pan Air Líneas Aéreas (PNZ)’s flights from the moment that the sale of (TNT) Express to FedEx (FED) is completed. (ASL) Aviation has signed a multi-year deal with (TNT) Express, where it will operate flights for the newly joined (FED) - (TNT).
“In anticipation for closing, we had to find a new owner for (TNT)’s airlines to comply with aviation regulations. With (ASL) Aviation Group, we have found an experienced aviation group that can meet the high service standards that we have implemented at (TNT) over the last two years,” (TNT) (CEO), Tex Gunning said. “Great progress is being made in planning the integration of FedEx (FED) and (TNT).”
This time, the upper level acquisition between (FED) and (TNT) Express seems to be proceeding more smoothly, with crucial competition clearances already secured from the (EU), Brazil and the USA. However, the Brazilian approval could still be appealed and a further clearance is required from China for the acquisition to go ahead. In a statement issued on February 2, (FED) and (TNT) Express said they are making progress and still expect to close the offer in the 1st half of 2016.
Upon completion, employees of (TNT) Airways and Pan Air (PNZ) will become part of (ASL) Aviation Group. (TNT) Airways’ headquarters in Liège will be retained. (TNT) Express’ Liège hub is not part of the sale and will be retained by (FED) - (TNT).
The (ASL) Aviation Group holds 7 air operator’s certificates (AOCs) in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Its European airlines comprise Irish cargo specialist, Air Contractors (HCA) (recently re-branded as (ASL) Airlines Ireland), Europe Airpost (EUE) ((ASL) Airlines France), Farnair Switzerland ((ASL) Airlines Switzerland) and Farnair Hungary ((ASL) Airlines Hungary). It also has stakes in South Africa’s FlySafair (SFA), Thai freight carrier K-Mile (KMI) and India’s Quikjet Cargo Airlines.
The Irish firm owns and operates a fleet of around 100 aircraft, although this will grow to >130 following the acquisition.
The diverse company, which generated a €382 million turnover in 2015, also owns 2 support services companies and various leasing entities.
October 2016: News Item A-1: The (ASL) Aviation Group agreed to lease 2 (AEI)-converted 737-800Fs (ex-China Southern (GUN)) from (GECAS) (GEF) for delivery in 2018.
News Item A-2: (GE) Capital Aviation Services (GEF) has placed its 1st 737-800NG passenger-to-freighter converted airplanes with the (ASL) Aviation Group.
January 2017: 737-4YOF (24917, HA-KAD) of (ASL) Airlines Hungary (ICAO) Code FAH (Callsign - Blue Strip) operates for (ASL) Belgium, is all white with "ASL Airlines" titles.
May 2017: 737-4YOF (25177, EI-HAA), ex-(N760SL) delivery to (ASL) Airlines Hungary.
February 2018: Ireland-based (ASL) Aviation Holdings has reorganized its Swiss operating unit (ASL) Airlines Switzerland (TUL) and handed back the latter’s air operator’s certificate (AOC) to Swiss regulatory authorities. Although the crews and aircraft are still based in Switzerland, they now operate under the group’s Irish (AOC), (ASL) Director Corporate Affairs Andrew Kelly said. (ASL) has operations in 6 European nations; it acquired its Swiss unit, formerly known as the Farnair Group.