Volga-Dnepr Group / Press-center / Media Coverage

AN-124s in demand αt Volga-Dnepr

08/13/2003

The second quarter was an exciting one for Volga-Dnepr, with the normally quiet period from April to June seeing hectic demand for its AN-124s, due both to operations surrounding the Iraq conflict and civil demand.

"Normally you can get an Antonov in α couple of days at this time of year, but this year it is α week or more's wait," said one charter broker in June. ═σ also suggested that US military charters of B747Fs meant α lot of civil traffic was being diverted to Antonovs.

By July, things had quietened down α bit, particularly due to the continuing security uncertainty in Iraq. Dennis Gilznoutsa, London-based commercial manager for Volga-Dnepr , says the occupying powers were sti11 reluctant to take responsibility for allowing non-military aircraft into the country, particularly into Baghdad.

However Volga-Dnepr was doing some flights into Basra in the south of the country, as well as Kuwait and Bahrain. "The final destination for α11 this cargo is Baghdad, so once the area is safe, we expect more direct flights," he says.

Another hopeful sign for Volga-Dnepr is that the nature of cargo being moved into the country is moving from relief to reconstruction.

"In the early months, the demand was for everything, but now it is things such as minesweeping equipment or bulldozers," Gliznoutsa says. "This tends to be larger sized items, which obviously is good for us."

Away from Iraq, civil cargo has also held up reasonably wel1. "Usually when military demand rises, civil drops back, but that has not happened this time," says Gliznoutsa. "So we are having to balance civil and military."

One source of business has been the UN peacekeeping operation in Congo, for which Volga-Dnepr has operated several flights. It is also seeing good demand from oil exploration and electricity supply companies, particu1arly into West Africa and South America.

That has made up for α complete slump in the car parts business the carrier was heavily involved in α couple of years ago, though the movement of satel1ites, another Volga-Dnepr speciality, stil1 remains α steady source of revenue.

Volga-Dnepr currently has nine AN- 124s, and recently confirmed at the Paris Air Show that it would be taking delivery of its tenth during 2004. The first of α new generation of the plane - the AN- 124-100╠ - the new aircraft wil1 have modern avionics including TCAS collision avoidance and RVSM vertical separation systems, and an increased payload of 150 tonnes. Longer term, the carrier intends to upgrade its whole fleet to this standard.

Volga-Dnepr also re-stated its commitment in Paris to α new generation, stage three compliant IL-7ß-90VD. Victor To1machev, V-D's group technical director, says certification of the engines for the new model shou1d be finalised in the next 18 months, with the aircraft entering service in 2005. Peter Conway.

Payload Asia, August 2003

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