AI, SATS to merge ground, cargo ventures into one

National carrier Air India and Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS) yesterday signed an agreement in Singapore to form a single 50:50 joint venture (JV) company that would serve as the vehicle to house their three existing ground and cargo handling JVs in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

To be named Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited (AISATS), the joint venture company is in the process of being incorporated in Delhi.

In September 2008, Air India  entered into a joint venture for ground handling in India witth SATS. Prior to that, both companies had collaborated in Hyderabad and Bangalore under three separate joint ventures, providing ground and cargo handling services since the opening of the new airports in March and May 2008.

However, the incorporation of these JVs was held back, pending Air India's plans to select a strategic ground handling partner at Delhi and Mumbai.

Now AISATS will provide a legal entity to house the existing operations in Bangalore and Hyderabad and potential operations in other metro airports. Air India and SATS will each nominate three representatives as board members of AISATS.

''SATS is a world class ground handler that is renowned within the industry for its operational excellence, innovation and commitment to customer satisfaction," said Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing drector of Air India. "Combining our knowledge of the market and the strengths SATS has built from its over 60 years of experience, we are confident that this JV will gain superior capabilities and competitiveness.''

Clement Woon, president and CEO, SATS, said, ''Our successful cooperation with Air India in Hyderabad and Bangalore has demonstrated the vast synergies that our partnership can potentially reap by combining Air India's strong local footprint and knowledge with SATS' experience and know-how in ground handling.

''Through this JV, we look forward to growing further our presence in India to serve our key customers at more locations. We also seek to deepen our participation in the privatisation of India's aviation sector and contribute to the growth of the industry,'' added Woon.