Air CargoAmerican ShipperNews

Volga-Dnepr ramps up “clean” air charters for China

Russian company is sterilizing planes before loading.

When it comes to the coronavirus it’s no longer enough for all-cargo planes to simply load and go. Now, technicians in full-body hazmat suits are sterilizing aircraft from end to end for some carriers.

Volga-Dnepr Group, based in Moscow, said it has scrapped all scheduled freighter service with its AirBridgeCargo unit to China and instead is using the planes for dedicated charter operations to meet rising demand for medical and relief supplies. The sister airlines are operating between three to five charter flights each day.

Aircraft are being sanitized with disinfectant sprays before being loaded with masks, sanitizer gel, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, the company said. It also is flying sections to deliver goods for several large Chinese companies.

With the reduction in business for AirBridgeCargo, Volga-Dnepr’s scheduled all-cargo airline, some employees have been transferred to working other shifts and employees in China are working remotely from home.

Volga-Dnepr said flight crews are provided protective suits and have their temperature regularly monitored.

“There are no known cases of coronavirus infections of our employees to date,” the company said.

It is working closely with the World Health Organization and other public health groups to make sure personnel, cargo and aircraft are properly protected. 

Volga-Dnepr said it may soon offer a premium “clean charter” service for customers that want to ensure complete epidemiological precautions for transporting goods and keeping their supply chains functioning during epidemics.

FreightWaves previously reported on how cargo airlines are taking precautions to protect crews flying into the disease zone and that Atlas Air is also sanitizing aircraft out of China.

So far, there have been more than 72,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in China and nearly 2,000 deaths.

Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at