Volga-Dnepr Group / Press-center / Media Coverage

The sky's the limit for buoyant Volga


Volga-Dnepr Group is forecasting US$1bn in sales this year after seeing rapid growth in its air charter and scheduled business.

Its 2006 figures were boosted by the launch of a chapter IV noise-compliant version of the Ilyushin 76 and by strong commercial growth for the Antonov 124, which the company said had more than compensated for a slowdown in military and government activity.

Volga-Dnepr claimed 15% of the global IL-76 market last year with its fleet of seven aircraft. This aircraft alone generated revenues of $100m in 2006, more than the entire group turnover in 1999.

The breakthrough came in the second half following the first commercial flight of the IL-76-90 in June. During its six months of operation, the modernised aircraft performed 35 flights and carried 524 tonnes of cargo.

After its slow start, the aircraft is now exceeding 120 hours a month and at the beginning of this year, it made its first flight to the US, the first time in seven years that an IL-76 has operated commercially there.

"The older model Ilyushin had been "pretty much excluded from flying in the EU, US, Canada, Australia and Japan. The major crossroads of our business have not been instrumental in our business since 2000, " said Volga-Dnepr's US VP, Konstantin Vekshin.

"The new aircraft has a clear-cut niche in this business." Commercial director Dennis Gliznoutsa said a second IL-76-90 would join the fleet in October "and there is enough work for more". Five more aircraft were on order for 200910 and Volga-Dnepr plans to have 12 in operation by 2017. He told IFW the company was constrained more by manufacturing capacity than by customer demand.

Volga-Dnepr's AirBridge Cargo subsidiary (ABC), which last week celebrated its third anniversary, is also on the up after receiving its AOC last October. "We're still in a consolidation process, but we're no longer just a brand. We're now a stand-alone operator in the group, " said VP Stan Wraight.

ABC has taken a B747-400F on a three-year lease from Nippon Cargo Airlines as part of a joint venture co-operation and takes delivery of another this week.

This will give ABC six aircraft until this September, when it sells two to start-up airline Cargo B. "We wouldn't mind keeping them through the peak; to the end of the year if Cargo B doesn't start, though that looks unlikely, " Wraight said.

ABC is instead negotiating to make up its capacity shortfall this autumn with an unnamed B747-400 operator, bridging the gap until more new aircraft arrive in November, then February and April 2008.


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