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Four European airlines are to rebrand as one to ensure a strong, single name in the market. The ASL Group, which has seven airlines, will rename its European carriers, Air Contractors, Europe Airpost, Farnair Switzerland and Farnair Hungary, as ASL Airlines.

Between them, they operate some 75 aircraft in Europe and are expected to acquire new aircraft this year. Some aircraft will sport the new livery, while others will fly under customer brands, which could include integrators such as FedEx and DHL. The airlines will continue to operate under separate AOCs.

“This strong single brand will make it considerably easier to use the aircraft of the European fleet across the individual countries to meet customer demand, and this increased fleet flexibility and consequent competitiveness will enable us to grow our business,” said Hugh Flynn, CEO.

The group itself, which last month increased its shareholding in QuickJet Cargo in India to 72.59%, is also to restructure.

The CEO of Air Contractors, Colin Grant, is to become CEO of new division European Airlines. Dave Andrew, CEO of its South African carrier Safair, is to become CEO of ASL’s Rest of the World Airlines and Leasing division.

The changes are part of the group’s Platform for Growth, which will see more aircraft added to the fleet, said Mr Flynn.

The group is also creating ‘centres of excellence’ in a bid to reduce costs while improving safety, profits, reliability and quality. Mr Flynn added that increased job security was another key aim for the group.

ASL has proved itself an acquisitive company, well aware of market opportunities. Acknowledging that growth in Europe for small freighter operators has largely been flat, it gave its Europe Airpost carrier a greater focus on passengers and moved into the Indian market with Quikjet via its acquisition of Farnair last year. It also owns a share of Thailand’s K-Mile.

But the real question for ASL will be whether to get involved in the acquisition of TNT’s European airlines, PanAir and TNT Airways, after the FedEx takeover forces TNT to sell its EU airlines. ASL was to have acquired the airlines in the event of TNT’s takeover by UPS.

Some observers are speculating that this could also be an opportunity for Stansted-based Atlas subsidiary GSS, which has been out of the game since British Airways relinquished its 747-8F freighter fleet. GSS no longer has an AOC, but according to Companies House, continues to exist and has recently appointed two new directors. Currently, Titan Aviation, another Atlas subsidiary, is dry-leasing 777s to TNT.

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