Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) and the Interavia ground services company (formerly Swissport Ukraine) consider the press release by Swissport International (Switzerland) as a provocation aimed at discrediting the operations of the largest airline company in Ukraine. The press service of UIA has announced in a statement. In addition, UIA and Interavia consider such actions by Swissport International as a continuation of its attempts to resolve the dispute between the two entities by applying pressure on the Ukrainian judicial system and political institutions, as well as on government and diplomatic agencies of Ukraine and the European Union.
As reported, Swissport International questioned the impartiality of the Highest Economic Court of Ukraine on September 10, accusing it of artificially delaying consideration of the case involving the Swiss company’s loss of control over its Swissport Ukraine subsidiary. Swissport International said that the Highest Economic Court of Ukraine postponed consideration of its appeal for the seventh time on August 30 and that the appeal hearings in the third instance kept taking place for no longer than five minutes before they were postponed.
According to UIA, Swissport International and its Vice President Mark Skinner are spreading "knowingly false information aimed at putting pressure on the Ukrainian judiciary.” The airline company also accused Swissport International of trying to involve the authorities, the press, and the public in this business dispute for lobbyist purposes and "speculating on the names of the leadership of the European Union with the aim of achieving an unjust court decision in its favor."
According to the statement by UIA, consideration of Swissport International’s appeal in the Highest Economic Court of Ukraine is scheduled for September 18 this year and the dissemination of information alleging that the court supports the position of UIA “is a direct violation of the anticorruption laws of our country."
UIA also said that the Highest Economic Court of Ukraine suspended the consideration of the dispute for more than three months specifically at the request of representatives of Swissport International and not because it was delaying the proceedings artificially. "In total, judicial proceedings at various instances were interrupted eight times, exclusively at the initiative of Swissport,” UIA said in the statement.
UIA said that it is now the sole owner of Interavia and that this company is not considered a joint venture with Swissport International. The airline company also said that Swissport International’s contribution to the share capital of Swissport Ukraine was about UAH 24,000 (the amount that UIA itself contributed to the company at the time was not specified in the statement).
In general, according to the airline company, Swissport Ukraine developed without an approved strategy and according to a letter by the company’s former general director Vladimir Semenchenko, it was necessary to attract additional funds because the company could not continue to develop normally.
According to UIA, the airline company invested UAH 7.993 million in Interavia in July 2013 to increase the share capital of the ground services company to UAH 8.019 million. The number of its employees reached 1,150 at the end of August 2013, which represented an increase of 60% compoared with August 2012.
As reported, control of Swissport Ukraine transferred to UIA on October 26, 2012, following a ruling by the Kyiv Economic Court. The court’s decision came into force on April 27, 2013, after it was upheld by an appeal court. Swissport International owned 70.4 % of the Ukrainian company, but according to the court’s decision, UIA bought this stake for USD 400,000 although the real value of the stake was USD 25-30 million (according to Swissport International). UIA insists that all the decisions are lawful and that the purchase was approved by the courts based on a valuation approved by Swissport International and on the terms that were previously agreed between the two parties. The two parties agreed the compulsory buyout mechanism, of which UIA took advantage, and each party had the right to trigger this mechanism under certain conditions.
Swissport International Ltd. provides ground services for around 118 million passengers and 3.5 million tons of cargo a year on behalf of about 650 client-companies in the aviation sector. With a workforce of around 40,000 personnel, Swissport is active at 181 stations in 37 countries on five continents, and it generates annual consolidated operating revenue of CHF 1.9 billion (USD 2.03 billion).