Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has taken its first step into the Latin America ground handling market by acquiring a controlling shareholding in Orbital Group, one of Brazil’s leading providers of ramp, passenger and airport security services.
The investment is also timed to serve as a platform for WFS to enter the cargo handling market in Brazil as new opportunities emerge.
Founded in 2002, Orbital has operations at 19 airports across Brazil and handles some 23,000 flights a year for over 30 major airline customers. The company employs 1,700 staff and is headquartered in Sao Paulo, and generates annual sales of approximately US$40 million.
Under the terms of the deal, Rubens Pereira Leitão Filho, Managing Director of Orbital Group will continue in this role and as a shareholder in the company.
Olivier Bijaoui, President & CEO of WFS, said: “We’ve been looking for an entry point to the Latin America market for a number of years. Rather than jump at the first opportunity, we have waited for the right one to come along. Brazil was a clear choice because of its economic strength, growth and the scale of commercial aviation to support the objectives we have in entering the market. We are delighted to welcome Orbital and its 1,700 employees into the global WFS family of companies. Orbital has been a success story in its own right and is highly respected for its quality, stability and growth, and as a caring employer. It shares the same corporate values as WFS and we are confident it is an excellent fit for us.”
Rubens Filho added: “We are very excited to be working with WFS. It is a world leader in ground handling with a strong and growing business covering over 120 airports in more than 20 countries, and has a client base of 300 airlines. Its expertise will add to the current activities performed by Orbital and generate consequent development and growth. Our airline customers and airport authority partners will benefit from new technologies and specialized services, particularly for air cargo handling given WFS’ position as the world’s largest cargo handling company, processing four million tonnes a year.”
WFS also announced the appointment of Adolfo Morales as Executive Vice President – Latin America, based in Miami.
“Orbital have demonstrated their ability to be successful in a challenging and competitive market as well as the creativity to develop ancillary services, such as baggage handling. Now there will be expansion opportunities that would not have been possible for our two companies separately. We plan to build a business together throughout Brazil, entering new markets and increasing the range of services we offer to our customers. We are very positive about the prospects for the Brazilian economy, as one of the emerging BRICS national economies, and through its historical and commercial ties with Europe and North America respectively,” Adolfo Morales said.