Swissport International, has concluded a joint venture with Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), Ukraine's dynamic carrier, under which the partners will jointly operate the Interavia ground handling company. With its strong economic growth and its rapidly-rising air travel volumes, Ukraine fits ideally into the Swissport strategy of gaining key footholds in promising new markets, TravelDailyNews reported.

Ukraine International Airlines has taken the landmark decision to sell a majority 51% shareholding in Interavia Ltd., the ground handling company it co-founded with its partner Airline Business Handling in 2005, to Swissport International. "We are delighted that, in Swissport, we have found such a strong, experienced and international partner," says Richard W. Creagh, Deputy President of UIA.
"And we are confident that the new ownership arrangement will promote an extensive transfer of knowledge, generate additional airline business, enhance processes and further raise overall quality standards." The new arrangement will also enable UIA to concentrate on its core flight operations. Swissport already provides ground handling for UIA at various airports. But it will now also be active at the carrier`s Kiev hub. "Our goal here will be to accommodate all the growth for UIA while still offering top-quality products and services," says Mark Skinner, Vice President Business Development at Swissport International, who is in overall charge of the new collaboration.
"We're looking forward to taking over UIA's hub management, and to entering these rapidly-growing Eastern European markets." Kiev, with its 2.6 million inhabitants, has gained substantially in both importance and appeal since Ukraine`s government changed and the country opened up politically. "The market here offers phenomenal potential," UIA`s Creagh confirms. "And it`s not just governments, embassies and businesspeople who are demanding more and more mobility to and from the country; with the boom we are seeing in the local economy, more and more private individuals are travelling by air, too."
With annual operating revenues of EUR 2 million and some 12 000 flights handled a year, Interavia is the biggest ground handler at Kiev`s Borispol Airport. The company handled 1.7 million passengers in 2005, and expects to see a 21% increase in its business volumes for 2006. It also intends to expand its operations to other airports within the next 18 months.

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