Global aviation services provider Menzies Aviation has signed a subscription agreement with TAP Air Portugal (TAP) and Groundforce to acquire a controlling stake of 50.1% in Groundforce, the Portuguese airline’s aviation services arm.

Groundforce handles over 100,000 aircraft turns each year across its operations at five of the busiest airports in Portugal: Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) in Lisbon, Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO) in Porto, Gago Coutinho Airport (FAO) in Faro, Madeira International Airport (FNC), and Porto Santo Airport (PXO) on Porto Santo Island in Madeira.

The aviation services company provides ground and air cargo services to several global airlines including TAP, its main customer.

In May 2021, TAP filed to liquidate Groundforce, stating that the application was made in light of Groundforce’s worsening financial situation.

The Portuguese flag carrier announced at the time that there was no credible solution for financing, following the refusal by the state-owned Caixa Geral de Depósitos and Banco Português de Fomento to provide financing and guarantees and the fact that its majority shareholder had failed to restore the confidence of creditors.

“Groundforce has had a leading position in the aviation services market in Portugal for decades and we are pleased to have signed this agreement which enables us to enter the market at scale,” said Menzies Aviation CEO, Philipp Joeinig.

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“We will work to ensure a seamless transition for all stakeholders including airline customers and employees. This transition will enable us to deliver the safest, most secure and consistent services to our airline and airport partners at these five airports across Portugal.”

The subscription agreement establishes the general terms and conditions of Groundforce’s recovery plan. Upon the granting of all necessary authorisations and consents, the recovery plan will be submitted by the insolvency administrators for review discussion and approval by Groundforce’s creditors’ assembly.

For TAP, this process is crucial for the stability and improvement of the company’s operational performance, with a direct impact on TAP’s activity and the satisfaction of its customers.

“We have strong conviction in the global aviation industry, and we are encouraged by the pace of recovery for both passenger and cargo volumes following the pandemic disruption,” Hassan El-Houry, chairman of Menzies Aviation said.

“This transaction is further evidence of our scale and ability to enter a market in a meaningful way, as a long-term investor with a strong commitment to delivering industry-leading services to airline and airport customers. We look forward to working with the Groundforce team to take advantage of the opportunities in this market.”

National Aviation Services, which joined forces with Menzies Aviation last year under the ownership of Agility, was selected as a preferred bidder for Groundforce in August 2022.