HomeBusiness DigestPioneer says airline plans still on course

Pioneer says airline plans still on course

Eric Chiriga

TRANSPORT and logistics firm Pioneer Corporation Africa, says plans to establish an airline business are still on course.


e company is now waiting to be granted a ground permit from the Civil Aviation Authority to start operations.

Pioneer has been trying to establish the air transport venture for the past three years.

“We are now waiting for a ground permit and we expect to get it quite soon,” said Gerry Hipwell, Pioneer’s outgoing CEO.

“Although we have come a long way, we are about to get through,” Hipwell said.

Hipwell said the airline business would be done in partnership with both foreign and local investors, but refused to disclose the investors.

“We already have partners but I can’t give more details at this stage,” said Hipwell. He further said they intended to increase their stake in the international courier company, Skynet, to at least 51%. Pioneer currently holds 42% in Skynet.

“We already have an agreement in principle with Skynet concerning the deal,” Hipwell said.

He said they did not intend to gain complete control of Skynet but to remain partners. Pioneer is currently hunting for a CEO following Hipwell’s resignation.

The group has been on an aggressive expansion programme, pursuing opportunities mainly in the region.

Pioneer recently acquired Unifreight, another local transport company with a significant market share in both the country and the region.

Pioneer posted a $38,8 billion profit after tax in the year to December 2005, from a $4,2 billion loss the previous year.

The company’s asset base grew from $1,7 trillion to $2 trillion, while revenue shrunk from $1,3 trillion to $1,1 trillion. Pioneer is a holding company for seven subsidiaries — Pioneer Transport, Pioneer Coaches, Trek Africa, Pal Logistics, Clan, Cross City Courier and Sky Net.

All the business units made considerable profit contributing to the group’s positive results. The Pioneer group was born out of a $7,5 billion acquisition by Pioneer Transport of Clan Transport.

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