Acquisition of French Tour Operator Vacances Heliades
Avion Group's subsidiary, XL Leisure Group, is pleased to announce that it has reached agreement to acquire 100% of the issued share capital of Vacances Heliades ('Heliades'), a French tour operator. Heliades will strengthen XL Leisure's Star Airlines, creating, on completion, France's fifth largest tour operator.
Heliades, which was established in January 1980, reported turnover for the financial year 2005 of Euros 80 million and profit before tax of Euros 3.3 million. The company is being purchased for 7.7 million Euros through a mixture of equity and debt. Heliades will be consolidated into the financial statements of Avion Group with effect from 1 January 2007.
Heliades carried 120,000 passengers in 2005 and on completion of the acquisition, Star Airlines is expected to carry over one million passengers on an annual basis to over thirty destinations.
Heliades's destination routes are: Athens, Heraklion, Mykonos, Santorin, Rhodes and Corfu in Greece and Paphos and Larnaca in Cyprus. Heliades operates flights to Greece and Cyprus from main airports all over France. Among departure airports are: Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse with some recently added new destinations such as Tunis, Morocco and Egypt.
The acquisition will create synergies for XL Leisure Group, as the British tour operator Kosmar, which is a part of XL Leisure Group, travels partly to the same destinations as Heliades.
Heliades will strengthen the current operation of Star Airlines, which was purchased by Avion Group in February 2006 to establish a Charter & Leisure operation outside the UK. Additionally, Avion Group announced in June the acquisition of the French internet-based business-to-business tour operator Crystal To. On completion of the Heliades acquisition, Avion Group is expected to carry approximately seven million passengers on an annual basis.
Heliades is headquartered in Aix en Provence, close to Marseille and its offices are located in Paris, Lyon and Toulouse in France and in Athens in Greece and Heraklion in Crete.
Commenting on the acquisition, Magnus Stephensen, deputy CEO of XL Leisure Group, said:
"Avion Group currently runs a very successful business to business tour operator in the UK, as a part of Excel Airways Group. The acquisition of Heliades as a tour operator perfectly complements our airline, Star Airlines, purchased in February, and allows us to build on our knowledge and experience within the industry to replicate that success in France.
"Expansion of our existing operations in France provides Avion with access to a much larger market share and provides many potential opportunities for the future of the Group."
Avion Group hf. Magnus Stephensen, deputy CEO XL Leisure Group +354 515 7700 Buchanan Communications Richard Darby/Suzanne Brocks 020 7466 5000
Avion Group Avion Group is a global transportation solutions group founded on January 1, 2005. The company is organized into three business divisions -- Aviation Services, Charter & Leisure and Shipping & Logistics. Aviation Services consists of ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) provider Air Atlanta Icelandic, maintenance provider Avia Technical Services and airport handling provider Southair. Charter & Leisure is represented by leisure service travel provider Excel Airways Group (UK), Star Airlines (France) and Star Europe (Germany). The Shipping and Logistics division is represented by Eimskip, the prime maritime transportation company in Iceland, with its fleet of approximately 36 ships. In addition to the vessels, there are currently approximately 60 Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the fleet. Avion Group employs close to 6,500 people at 118 operational bases worldwide.