Volga-Dnepr Group / Press-center / Media Coverage

Where handling a heavy load is all in a day's work

11/14/2008

Russia's Volga-Dnepr Group is in Kuala Lumpur to promote the heavy-weight and outsize abilities of the Volga-Dnepr Airlines AN-124 freighter fleet and the scheduled B747 freighter capacity of group company AirBridgeCargo Airlines.

According to Dennis Gliznoutsa, group commercial director at Volga-Dnepr Airlines: "General business is pretty stable at the moment." There has been a change in the balance of charter work, he notes, however, with a greater emphasis being placed on the government and military operations currently handled by the Russian carrier, as compared to commercial project work. In particular, Gliznoutsa reveals that there have been a number of flights to Iraq and Afghanistan undertaken on behalf of the Russian government, as well as to Central and Western Africa." Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have also chartered Volga-Dnepr aircraft to fly into Sudan and neighbouring countries. Strong demand

As the government and NGO work increases, so the commercial work tends to fall away. This is natural and by no means unexpected, Gliznoutsa points out. Overall, he says, there has been a strong demand for the heavy-weight and outsize capacity that the carrier's fleet of IL-76 and AN-124 freighters can provide.

On the commercial side of the charter business, the biggest demand has been seen in the construction and energy sectors, with the movement of oil exploration equipment and alternative fuel equipment being particularly noticeable. The movement of aircraft components has also provided a considerable boost for Volga-Dnepr's capacity figures.

Domestic boost

Demand for oil and gas equipment has proved a boost for Russian domestic charters as well as on international flights. Gliznoutsa points to a recent 5-8 percent increase in operational figures for the carrier's domestic and CIS operations. With regard to its aircraft deliveries, a third IL-76-TD-90, is scheduled to be delivered next year, with the fourth — actually scheduled for delivery in December 2009 - now expected in January 2010. The fifth aircraft of the type is expected to be re-ceived in March 2010.

Gliznoutsa says that Volga-Dnepr is currently in negotiations regarding the acquisition of Russian military AN-124s, but these talks are at a preliminary stage and no developments are expected in the near future, he explains. The plan to restart production of the AN-124 aircraft, a partnership between Russia and Ukraine, is continuing but there are not likely to be visible results for Volga-Dnepr until the 2011-12 timeframe, he observes.

A decision on the purchase of Tu-204 freighters has not yet been finalised. The acquisition of the 25-tonne capacity freighter depends on the outcome of Volga-Dnepr's future hub strategy, Gliznoutsa said. One possibility is that such aircraft could operate between Moscow and Krasnoyarsk and between Krasnoyarsk and destinations in China.

The scheduled B747 freighter operator in the Volga-Dnepr Group, AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), is here at ACF 2008 to promote its services as the first Russian all-cargo airline to operate scheduled services in Europe, Russia and Asia. The launch of scheduled services to North America is planned for the near future, in line with ABC's network expansion and fleet modernisation plans.

To help some of its customers to better understand the procedures in the Russian air freight market, ABC recently organised a familiarisation trip for its key agents from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. There were visits to Moscow Sheremetyevo airport and Pulkovo airport in St Petersburg that allowed the visitors to gain a first-hand impression of the facilities and procedures at the ABC gateways in Russia.

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