Volga-Dnepr enters scheduled cargo market
Volga-Dnepr, the fast-growing Russian airline group, will enter the air cargo scheduled transport market with a China/Russia/Luxembourg service starting April 2. Operating charter flights for heavyweight and outsize cargoes, the Russian group has set up a specialized subsidiary, AirBridge Cargo, to operate and market the scheduled activities.
The new subsidiary, headed by former Atlas Air executive Stan Wraight, said its China/Russia/Luxembourg twice-weekly scheduled service will use two Boeing 747 freighters bought from Alitalia. The freighters will fly between a European hub in Luxembourg and Shanghai, via Moscow and Novosibirsk.
“There is almost no competition to AirBridge Cargo at the moment,” said Alexey Isaikin, president of Volga-Dnepr. He added the Russian government supports the project.
The Volga-Dnepr group said the Asia/Russia/Europe service is a first step towards a future round-the-world scheduled operation planned for next year. This scheduled service will take in China, western Russia, Europe, the United States, and the Russian Far East, according to AirBridge Cargo. Also next year, the scheduled operator aims to start a hub-and-spoke operation from the hubs of Moscow, Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk in Russia and from several hubs in China.
Wraight, managing director of AirBridge Cargo, said the company will provide a scheduled cargo service between China and a yet-to-be-finalized U.S. airport from 2005. He cited New York, Huntsville, Ala., and Chicago as potential choices.
Volga-Dnepr Airlines, established in 1990, estimates it has a worldwide share of more than 50 percent of the “super heavy” and outsized air cargo transport market.
Volga-Dnepr Group, a private-sector holding company that owns Volga-Dnepr Airlines, reported a 49-percent increase in revenues to $172 million for the first nine months of 2003. In the nine-month period, the airline’s fleet of Antonov 124-100 freighters transported more than 46,000 tons of cargo, a 34-percent increase on the same period a year earlier.