John Menzies on course for tie-up with Oman Air

Edinburgh-based logistics group John Menzies is aiming to form a ground-handling joint venture covering all airports in the Gulf state of Oman.

Menzies Aviation is in talks over a ground-handling joint venture with Oman Air. Picture: Contributed

The firm’s Aviation arm has signed a memorandum of understanding with Oman Air with the goal of getting the tie-up off the ground before the end of this year.

If it goes ahead, the joint venture would offer ground handling at nine airports across Oman, including Oman Air’s key hub operation in Muscat. The partnership would employ about 2,500 people and handle more than 50,000 aircraft turnarounds a year.

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Menzies Aviation managing director Forsyth Black said: “We’re very excited by the opportunity to work with Oman Air. This venture represents real progress against our strategy by securing a hub location and by expanding in emerging markets.

“There is a great tradition of co-operation between British and Omani partners; we hope to add this new joint venture to that list.”

Oman Air chief executive Paul Gregorowitsch added: “We are pleased to have signed a memorandum of understanding with Menzies Aviation which will see us form a joint venture partnership by the end of this year.

“Menzies Aviation is a highly professional, global company with a proven track record. Our partnership will enable us to access new technology, improve training and achieve the highest standards with regard to ground handling operations.”

Oman Air, founded in 1993, operates 40 aircraft serving about 50 destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It is planning to boost its fleet to 70 by the end of the decade.

Menzies chairman Iain Napier retired earlier this month after shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis recommended that investors vote against his re-election at its annual meeting.

The baggage handler and newspaper distributor last year came under pressure to consider breaking itself up, with Swiss activist investor Lakestreet Capital Partners arguing such a move would increase its valuation. The group has now drafted in advisers as it eyes a possible restructuring.