It’s official: as of today, ASL Aviation Group acquired the two airlines formerly owned by TNT Express.
When FedEx made its offer to acquire TNT Express, one of the conditions imposed by EU law was that TNT Express’ airlines – TNT Airways and Pan Air Líneas Aéreas – could not be part of the deal. In order to retain their EU certification (and therefore the right to operate in Europe), the two airlines would have to be European-owned.
In February of this year, Ireland-based ASL reached an agreement to acquire both Belgium-based TNT Airways and Spain-based Pan Air, conditional upon FedEx’s acquisition of TNT Express. Late last week, the FedEx offer was declared unconditional, and ASL has now acquired the two former TNT airlines for an undisclosed sum. With the completion of this transaction, ASL has renamed TNT Airways as ASL Airlines Belgium and Pan Air as ASL Airlines Spain
As part of the deal, ASL “has entered a multi-year service agreement to operate flights for the new FedEx-TNT combination.” Under this agreement, the 580 employees of TNT Airways and Pan Air will transition to employment by ASL, and “current terms and conditions of employment will be respected.” The TNT Airways and Pan Air facilities in Liège and Madrid will be maintained “as the corporate offices of ASL Airlines Belgium and ASL Airlines Spain,” but the TNT Express hub in Liège is not part of the ASL acquisition.
This latter point is interesting. Once the FedEx acquisition of TNT is completed, FedEx will have three air express hubs in Europe – Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG), and Cologne/Bonn (CGN), plus the TNT Eurohub in Liège (LGG). The three are within 400 km of one another (Liège and Cologne are barely 100 km apart), and it is hard to imagine FedEx keeping them all. We doubt that anything will change soon, but it seems likely that operations will eventually be consolidated and at least one of the three will disappear.
As shown in the chart at right, in addition to the 33 freighters operated by its own airlines, TNT Express also leased in lift from other carriers on an ACMI basis. ASL said it expects to continue these lease arrangements, although, as with the hubs, this will likely change over time. Cargo Facts expects that ASL will continue to acquire narrowbody freighters, and some of these will likely enter service for FedEx in Europe.
Following the acquisition of TNT Airways and Pan Air, the ASL Group now has nine airlines under its umbrella, with almost 100 freighters (including one ATR 72 and one 737-400 currently in conversion). Some of ASL’s airlines also operate passenger aircraft, but these are not shown in the chart.