Saber quietly sells Route Tech Airpas Aviation – Skift


Saber quietly sold Airpas Aviation, a software vendor and consulting firm, at Ventiga Capital Partners, a private equity firm, earlier this year.

Ventiga, Airpas’ new backer, announced on Tuesday that it had merged the company with FuelPlus Group, which provides airlines with software to manage jet fuel usage, the most important cost center for most carriers. The private equity firm plans to support additional acquisitions. Its goal is to create a travel technology group focused on managing airline costs through cloud-based software.

Saber, a travel technology company based in Southlake, Texas, acquired Airpas Aviation in April 2016 for $ 9 million. He touted the subsidiary’s competence in helping airlines manage route profitability and manage costs through software. He managed the subsidiary as part of its airline solutions business line.

Saber had not made a public statement about the sale, and he did not mention it in recent financial filings. But a spokesperson confirmed that the company divested Airpas Aviation without revealing details of the transaction.

The Airpas Aviation acquisition took place under the leadership of former Saber CEO Tom Klein. Since then, Saber has appointed Sean Menke CEO, and Menke has led a rationalization of the company’s portfolio.

“The two companies [Airpas Aviation and FuelPlus Group] are profitable, ”said Michael Charalambous, vice president of business operations at FuelPlus Group. “They have had very good results over the past 18 months, even during Covid, mainly because most airlines are looking to control their costs. For example, FuelPlus has recruited Spirit, Royal Brunei and Hong Kong Express as customers in the past 12 months. “

Airpas Aviation offers cost management for airport fees, ground handling and airport navigation. He claimed to help airlines manage $ 76 billion in flight costs last year.

Ventiga, a UK-based private equity firm, recently acquired FuelPlus, which had been independently owned for six years after being detached from the Lufthansa Group.

FuelPlus Group serves around 21 airline groups as customers, including British Airways and Lufthansa Group. It claimed to manage 28% of the jet fuel consumption of commercial passenger airlines worldwide. FuelPlus CEO Klaus-Peter Warnk will lead the merged group.

The combined entity is headquartered in Brunswick (Braunschweig), Germany.

Technical cumulative management of airline costs

Ventiga has already invested in travel technology. In 2017, it acquired Infare solutions, which is a Danish provider of airfare data and analysis software.

At first glance, the purchase of FuelPlus and Airpas Aviation by Ventiga is not an obvious decision. What Do Jet Fuel and Airport Flight Fees Have in Common?

“The thesis behind the merger is that airlines need to rationalize and digitize their costs in a more sophisticated way,” Charalambous said. “It’s crazy that an airline pays over $ 100 million for a plane, but can still have manual, paper-based systems to collect invoices to manage costs. It’s just outrageous.

Even airlines with digital processes often run them in hosted systems or data centers. FuelPlus and Airpas can help airlines move their tools to the cloud, where it’s easier to get a faster and more complete picture of business intelligence, the companies said.

Having said that, the tech part doesn’t seem so revolutionary. Many software companies have developed similar tools for all types of businesses.

The greatest potential is the sharing of aviation best practices on cost management when the aviation industry struggles to recover from the pandemic.

Airlines have an opportunity to manage costs

No airline does everything perfectly to manage all of its operational costs. Skills differ from airline to airline and from department to department within airlines. The opportunity for aggregators like FuelPass Group and Airpas is to bring together best practices. Many carriers seem to need help fine-tuning their capabilities to identify where their costs are leaking and how to fix it.

Ventiga seemed likely to acquire other companies to complement its new acquisitions. The typical airline needs an overview of its flight data and commercial billing data, to check the data against each other and to inform decisions. But now, airlines typically use separate systems to do this.

In short, there is an opportunity for a unified cost management system used by an airline’s fuel team, its usage costs team, operations analysts, procurement teams and senior executives. . For example, an experience manager or sales manager at an airline might get a bird’s-eye view of cost trends and even break them down by route or flight.

FuelPass and Airpas only overlap for two out of 103 customers. So cross-selling is a short-term opportunity once they’ve built a unified system in about a year. One area of ​​growth for the merged company will help airlines report and comply with global emissions declarations with various government authorities around the world.

“Airlines are very sensitive to margins,” Charalambous said. “But they are strangely behind in adopting the technology to protect those margins.”

“Today, it would be crazy for a business of any type and size not to have a cloud-based platform or one place to manage all of its costs and customers. Yet many airlines are behind the ball by embracing what other industries have called ERP. [enterprise resource planning] or CRM [customer relationship management] Software. We expect a big airline push to catch up over the next five years. “

Photo credit: A Lufthansa Airbus A330-300 being de-iced on the tarmac at Frnakfurt Airport. Lufthansa is a customer of FuelPlus, which essentially bought Airpas Aviation from Saber, the travel technology company, through Ventiga, a private equity firm. Oliver Roesler / Lufthansa Group

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