UK-based Global Supply Systems (GSS), in which Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings is a 49% stakeholder, was formed in 2002 in order that British Airways World Cargo could continue to ACMI lease freighters from Atlas, while staying compliant with UK law. GSS dry-leased three 747-400Fs from Atlas, and operated them on an ACMI basis for BA through 2011, at which time it replaced the -400Fs with 747-8Fs but otherwise continued as before.
But early this year, British Airways World Cargo (now merged with Iberia Cargo under the International Airlines Group umbrella) invoked early termination of the three ACMI leases effective 30 April, and GSS was suddenly looking at a future with no customers. While it will not be stuck with three very expensive freighters – the 747-8Fs will go back to Atlas – GSS employs close to 100 pilots and over thirty ground staff for which there will be no work at the end of this month unless the company can find another customer.
Cargo Facts European editor Alex Lennane reports that GSS spokesperson David Curgenven said the company was “optimistic” it would gain a new contract in the near future. “We are working hard on it,” he said.
The question, of course, is what customer might have the kind of flying available for which GSS would be suited? As we have previously reported, UPS put its European airlift contract currently held by Denmark-based Star Air out to bid last year, but has so far made no public announcement regarding the winner. Carriers known, or believed, to be in the competition, in addition to Star Air, include: Ireland-based ASL Group, Sweden-based West Atlantic (in partnership with ATSG), and Switzerland-based Farnair. However, if recent rumors are true, Global Supply Systems may also be eyeing the UPS contract.
Whether GSS has a realistic chance of winning the UPS business is unknown. The competition – including incumbent Star Air – is stiff, and UPS has given no hint of its decision. For more on the future of GSS, you can read Alex Lennane’s summary on her Loadstar site, here.