It’s not every day we read a GSE story of international intrigue, corporate raiders, back room deals, even immoral business practices. But yesterday, one of our Google alerts sent us to The Loadstar blog, which recounts how a 2007 deal between Swissport and Ukraine International Airlines went south.
The Good Guy
Swissport bought a 51 percent stake in a ground handler called Interavia from UIA and set up Swissport Ukraine. Meanwhile, UIA kept a 30 percent interest in the Swissport business. By all accounts, the relationship between airline and ground handler are good. Meanwhile, Swissport Ukraine picks up business with 20 other customers.
The Bad Guy
Aron Mayberg, who acquired all of UIA when the airline was privatized last year. UIA promptly fires Swissport Ukraine and instead goes with a company formerly owned by Mayberg. Reports are that the new contract delivers lower quality for a higher price.
UIA says Swissport violated its minority rights. And for that, UIA gets to buy out Swissport for a song, including getting some $8 million worth of GSE for only $400,000.
“Baseless,” says Swissport about the allegations. But “Yes,” says the Ukraine justice system so far.
Home court advantage takes on new meaning in this case. Judges were switched at the last minute during interim court proceedings. Afterward, the new interim judges refused to allow Swissport the right to be heard and decided in favor of UIA.
Maybe. Swissport says UIA is in financial straits and has asked IATA to review the airline’s Operational Safety Audit program and warn members of the carrier’s “questionable and immoral business practices.”
The final verdict is yet to be heard.