Swissport’s Outlook on 2023

May 15, 2023
CEO Warwick Brady discusses how the ground service provider is navigating a post-COVID world to grow its business and balance its portfolio.
Warwick Brady
Warwick Brady

As the commercial aviation industry continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ground handling industry has faced numerous challenges. But opportunities have also presented themselves.

Despite challenges faced a year ago, Swissport has shown strong growth.

According to company officials, the number of aircraft turned increased from 2 million to 3.3 million in its ground services segment, and the number of airline passengers served nearly doubled to 186 million in 2022.

In a recent interview with Ground Support Worldwide and, Swissport CEO Warwick Brady shared his thoughts and the company’s goals across various segments of the ground handling market.

“I think this industry has not been good enough at really delivering consistent operation delivery across the world as professional ground handlers. What we’re trying to do as a mission is to really deliver fantastic, safe, day-in/day-out operational consistency for all of our airline customers,” he said.

Ground services like deicing, ramp services, cleaning, check-in services, VIP services and others make up the largest portion of Swissport’s portfolio. Brady has been pleased with this segment’s improvement since pandemic-related restrictions have eased.

“That part of the business is growing in line with market growth,” Brady said, adding the company has grown through securing ground handling contracts with airlines as well as through mergers and acquisitions.

For instance, Swissport secured a contract at Rome Fiumicino Airport, Italy’s largest hub airport, and the firm was selected by ITA Airways to provide ground services at Zurich and Geneva airports.

“The Italian market was quite a fragmented market. I think they were looking for a really dependable international brand to help support the growth in aviation in Italy,” Brady said, crediting his company’s ability to service key hubs for major airlines.

In the cargo handling segment of its business, Swissport officials note the demand for cargo has slowed.

“We have seen some declines in cargo volumes, but we’re working very hard to extend the range of the services. We do handling, break-down, build-up, warehousing, trucking – we do a lot of those services across that piece,” Brady said.

“Ground handling grows in line with GDP, whereas cargo is quite cyclical,” he added. “Currently, we’re obviously seeing some economic slowdown. So, you’re obviously seeing some slowdown in cargo.

“Our job in cargo is to mitigate any of the volume declines with other services, etc.”

When it comes to the company’s cargo business, Brady said the real asset is having the right location at the airport and working with the right partner. Swissport saw these opportunities when it acquired a majority stake of Düsseldorf Airport’s cargo handling unit, Flughafen Düsseldorf Cargo GmbH.

“What we saw in Dusselforf was an opportunity to take over the cargo operations from the airport. We joined that together with our business. I think there’s going to be quite a lot more opportunities,” Brady said. “When you look at the last year, we bought a business in Liege, we bought the Dusseldorf business – I think you’ll see more of those types of deals to come as airports look to outsource some of their activities to what I call best-in-class partners like us.”

To further round out its portfolio, Brady noted Swissport is trying to grow its fueling business, the majority of which is currently in the United States and Germany, and the company is adding about 10 lounges a year to its passenger services business.