More than 30 years ago, Volga-Dnepr began its journey in the vast world of the aviation cargo industry, creating a unique market for the transportation of oversized and super-heavy cargo. We have done a tremendous job and managed to become a global, reliable player, offering transportation services for any type of cargo, even the most technically challenging ones. Experienced specialists, a specialized fleet, competencies, and knowledge — all this enable us to carry out the most ambitious logistics projects. Over the years, Volga-Dnepr has passed a bright and rapid path from a small group of enthusiasts from the Ulyanovsk aircraft plant to a recognized player in the global cargo transportation market.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines was established in 1990 in Ulyanovsk with the unique purpose — to adjust the An-124’s operations for commercial purposes for transportation of oversized and super-heavy cargoes. The airline operated its first commercial flight en-route Ulyanovsk-Moscow-Samara-Ulyanovsk on the 1st of August 1991. September of the same year has seen the delivery of 120 tonnes of cargo from Amsterdam to Almaty aboard An-124. However, a young airline was looking for a foreign partner to operate successfully on the global market and gain necessary experience and competences. The choice was made in favour of the British company HeavyLift that had been specializing in special cargo transportations for more than 15 years by that time. The first several years were rather challenging as the airline had to compete with other experienced and well-known carriers.

The first decade was a period of vast growth for Volga-Dnepr, by the beginning of new millennium the airline operated the largest fleet of An-124 (10 planes) and controlled 60% of the market share for unique cargo transportations. The Company’s phenomenon was explained primarily by the fact that neither other Russian nor foreign airlines had aircraft capable of transporting not only single cargo weighing up to 120 tons, but also structures up to 20 m long, 50 cars in two tiers or 12 sea standard six-meter containers.

Since 2001, Volga-Dnepr began operating independently on the global market and terminated its cooperation with HeavyLift. By this time, the Company was ready to work in accordance with the international standards all by itself. Within the shortest timeframes Volga-Dnepr has created a commercial network of agents across the globe and established its own sales offices in Houston and Stansted airport (London). As a result, in less than a year more than half of its previous customers started working with Volga-Dnepr, alongside new ones, as they were assured that the airlines’ quality of services was as high as ever. Volga-Dnepr was able to regain half of the oversized cargo transportation market, and then further increase its share in the face of severe competition.

During this period, the company begins active cooperation with the UN, participates in humanitarian missions and continues to provide project logistics for customers from aerospace, oil and gas, energy, and other technologically complex industries. In 2004 the company deployed its tenth An-124-100M. On the 7th of July 2004 Volga-Dnepr was officially issued an IATA-member certificate (International Air Transport Association unites carriers from all over the world), this served as an acknowledgment of the Company’s high-ranked international reputation. At the same time, Volga-Dnepr is starting to form a cargo supermarket, offering solutions for the transportation of cargoes both on charter flights of Volga-Dnepr airlines and on scheduled flights of AirBridgeCargo and ATRAN airlines.

The third decade was the period of rapid growth for the Company: new international scheduled flights, expansion of Boeing 747 and Boeing 737 fleet, enhancement of service quality in line with international standards. Volga-Dnepr expanded and deepened its competences in project logistics adding more success stories such as transportation of fuselage, wing panels for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, industrial equipment for a gas processing plant in Papua New Guinea, 18 -meter bus Irisbus Citelis and many others.

The Company continued investing in fleet modernization, as a result in May 2010 a new Il-76TD-90VD which was manufactured on the Tashkent Aviation Production Association named after. Chkalov was put into commercial operation within the Volga-Dnepr’s fleet. As a result of the replacement of engines and avionics, it significantly improved its flight performance, increased its carrying capacity and met all ICAO requirements.

In 2019, Volga-Dnepr began operating the upgraded An-124-100M-150 aircraft. The reinforced landing gears and cargo floor made it possible to increase the carrying capacity of the existing Ruslans from 120 to 150 tons.

2020 has turned out to be the most unpredictable year for the whole world as nobody was prepared for COVID-19 pandemic. Since February 2020, Volga-Dnepr has started transporting medical goods: from masks and sanitizers up till ventilators and mobile hospitals. In 2020-2021, Volga-Dnepr saved the lives of more than 500,000,000 people around the world by delivering more than 50,000 tons of covid cargo worldwide.

During the spring of 2022, the world of logistics changed completely, and the Company had to work under unprecedented sanction pressure. Volga-Dnepr has successfully adjusted business model of scheduled cargo operations to Il-76TD-90VD, optimized its loading procedures for palletized cargo and aligned its work with all stakeholders. The Company introduced new destinations from China, India, and UAE. Apart from airfreight, Volga-Dnepr started offering additional logistics services covering first and last miles, customs clearance, cargo insurance, consulting, and other aspects.