Volga-Dnepr Group / Press-center / Media Coverage

All change at AirBridge


FORMER Flyington Freighters and Etihad boss Robert Strodel has joined Russian all-cargo airline AirBridge Cargo with immediate effect. Denis Ilyin is leaving the Volga Group after over 13 years of service, to take up a new role working for Moscow-based investment firm Basic Element.

Artem Voskoboynikov, vice-president of corporate development for parent company Volga-Dnepr, told Air Cargo News that Strodel is employed as a consultant to the top management in the Volga-Dnepr Group. “The contract has been signed and he has commenced work on a full-time basis.”

Voskoboynikov added that Alexey Isaikin would remain as president of both AirBridge and Volga-Dnepr. However, sources within the airline said that Strodel is acting as a consultant for a probationary period and, if successful, would be offered the job taking on the leadership of AirBridgeCargo. The search for putting a new management team in place began a few months ago and currently Isaikin has a number of consultants reporting directly.

“Strodel will be now judged on his deeds rather talks,” said the source, adding that the current market conditions were particularly challenging.

The choice of Strodel seems somewhat surprising given his recent track record. He left his position as chief executive officer at Etihad in mysterious circumstances in May 2006, before joining the shadowy Middle East-based all-freight start-up Liwa Air.

Liwa failed to ever materialise as an operating airline, and Strodel moved onto another all-cargo start-up – India’s Flyington Freighters. After a a series of announcements of orders for new A330 freighters last year, a deathly hush has descended over the airline. The exodus of a number of senior managers has left the airline in limbo and Air Cargo News could not get any response to its request for an interview with Flyington.

Meanwhile, AirBridge Cargo has another challenge in replacing its much respected senior vice-president strategy and marketing, Denis Ilyin.

Ilyin is leaving the Volga Group after over 13 years of service, to take up a new role working for Moscow-based investment firm Basic Element. He will remain involved in aviation as Basic Element looks to increase its airport interests, primarily in Russia.

Ilyin told Air Cargo News that he had made the decision to leave AirBridge over a year ago, but had postponed his departure following the management changes in the wake of the departure of ABC’s managing director, Stan Wraight.

“Basically I reached the point where I felt I had achieved everything I wanted to within the Volga-Dnepr Group and I wanted to pursue other career opportunities. I have enjoyed my time with the company immensely and I thank Mr Isaikin for the opportunities he gave me at Volga,” said Ilyin.

Replacing Ilyin will prove a difficult task, it seems likely his role may be split apart with two or maybe three new positions created. It is planned that these positions will be filled internally.

AirBridge is also scaling back its plans for a major hub at Krasnoyarsk and retrenching to Moscow. Changes of ownership at Krasnoyarsk airport dictated the policy change, with the uncertainty making heavy investment too risky at the present time.


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