Alexey Isaikin: "Ramp Freighters Are Here To Stay"


Stockholm, Sweden, 5 April 2001. Problems faced by the Russian/C.I.S. aviation become more global. Introduction of a ban on flights to Europe in respect of aircraft unequipped with the traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) effective from April 2001 may seem a minor issue compared to the compliance with ICAO Chapter 3 requirements that will come into force throughout Europe from April 2002. As you may know, ICAO Chapter 3 provides for much stricter noise abatement standards that virtually close access to the European airspace for the majority of ex-USSR aircraft.

At the 2nd Air Cargo Economics Conference held in Stockholm on 2-4 April 2001, Mr. Alexey Isaikin, Director General of Volga-Dnepr Airlines made a presentation titled "C.I.S. Cargo Aviation Development Strategies and the New ICAO Standards".

"Ramp freighters account for 2% of sales in the worldwide air cargo market. At present it is a small but unique market niche tapped primarily by ex-USSR aircraft - Antonov AN-124-100, Ilyushin IL-76, Antonov AN-12, etc. The products offered by the ramp freighters include transportation of general cargoes that can also be accomodated by western non-ramp aircraft, carriage of outsize and heavy loads, and air delivery of relief aid to airports with underdeveloped infrastructure. At present and for the next 10-20 years, there is no real alternative to ex-USSR ramp freighters", Alexey Isaikin said.

Going into detail on the current situation around ramp freighters, Mr. Isaikin told the conference that introduction of the noise ban would have an adverse effect on both the airlines -the resulting drop in sales for the national cargo aviation is estimated at 10% - and customers within Europe. Few people know that ramp freighters are currently an integral link in the logistic chains of the largest European corporations.

Repeat customers for ramp freighter services include such international giants as Siemens AG, British Aerospace, Volkswagen, Renault, British Petroleum, Esso, Royal Dutch/Shell, Ericsson and many others. Over a thousand flights are operated annually by IL-76 throughout Europe. The most frequently used airports are Ostend (Belgium), Hahn (Germany), Skavsta (Sweden), Vitoria (Spain), Stansted (England), Shannon (Ireland). For many of these airports IL-76 flights are the significant source of revenues. The largest European air cargo brokers and agents who are involved in ramp freighter charter business will lose this market niche. Russia and C.I.S. countries will actually lose their 'air cargo bridge' to Europe, and the subsequent losses for a number of airlines will result in adverse social implications - thousands of households will be affected by severe job cuts.

The cost of the aircraft upgrade project for the 20-strong Ilyushin IL-76 fleet is estimated at US$250 mln. Clearly, Russian airlines are not in the position to carry out this project on their own.

"Reasonable time scale for the introduction of noise and avionics requirements based on the agreed schedule to complete the ramp freighter upgrade program; designation by the EC states of airports accessible by non-Chapter 3 freighters; and motivation system for airlines involved in the development and implementation of ramp frighter upgrade program to be offered by the Russian authorities - all these efforts would help to retain and maintain the competitiveness of ramp freighter fleets", Volga-Dnepr's CEO concluded.

"The IL-76 airlifts 90% of all emergency shipments. The aircraft does not require a fully equipped airfield and may deliver the cargo to destination within hours", Mr. Larry Coyne, President of Coyne Airways and President of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), said.

"The major portion of loads carried by the IL-76 cannot be accomodated by western-built equipment. The IL-76 is used to airlift outsize and heavy loads - aerospace products, cars, telecom equipment", Mr. Coyne added. "The closest competitor aircraft would cost triple as much and, not surprisingly, it is also Russian-built equipment", Larry Coyne said.

On 14-16 May 2001, the TIACA Conference on the Prospects for Cargo Aviation staged by the TIACA Russian/C.I.S. Chapter, will be held in Kiev, Ukraine. One of the top priority topics is the development of a strategy to support ramp freighters.

To obtain an electronic version of the presentation and further information, please contact PR Department, Volga-Dnepr Airlines (phone +7 095 245-57-93; fax +7 095 244-28-79; e-mail:

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