Despite recent problems it seems that Dubai are still in the acquisition mode. Dubai’s Dnata (part of Emirates Group) is to acquire Plane Handling Ltd  and ground handling operations from Aviance Ltd (both part of the Go-Ahead Group).

Go-Ahead have announced that contracts have been exchanged, with the sale of the Group’s Heathrow ground handling and cargo operations to Dnata with the operations outside Heathrow going to Servisair UK Ltd. Contract completion is expected to take place before the end of January 2010.

Dnata will end up with a mix of cargo and passenger handling operations at Heathrow and Manchester for a cost of £15 mn. Servisair will get the graound handling operations at Aberdeen, Belfast International, Belfast Harbour, Birmingham International, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Luton, Manchester, Southampton and Stansted for what they say is a nominal upfront cash consideration.

Dnata, set up in by the Dubai government in 1959 with just 5 staff, is now owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai and employs 6,500 people and is just about the largest supplier of air travel services in the Middle East.

Servisair is part of the Derichebourg Group, which employs some 47,000 people in 30 countries concentration on airport operations as well as corporate and environmental services.

Go-Ahead has said that the sale of their airport operations is another step in allowing it to deliver the Group’s strategy by concentration on their core businesses of rail and bus operations.

Go-Ahead will retain the Heathrow Meteor parking business.

The plans for personnel appear at present to involve them being TUPE’d across to the new owners with the same terms and conditions of employment, but the future pension arrangements have not been clarified. There does not seem to be any talk of redundancies at this stage although this cannot of course be ruled out.

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