Scheduled cargo airline goes from strength to strength
As Russia’s first international scheduled cargo airline and the first Russian company to operate Boeing 747 freighter aircraft, AirBridge Cargo Airlines’ (ABC) development since commencing operations in May 2004 has been one of network and fleet expansion, year-on-year freight tonnage and revenue growth and 24/7 customer service. This growth has been underpinned by a robust safety and security record and an ongoing commitment to service reliability in line with the highest international industry standards.
Newly-reported results for 2006 show a 96% growth in sales revenues to nearly US$230 million and a 79% increase in the volume of cargo carried to 78,400 tonnes.
2006 began on a high note with the airline’s parent, Volga-Dnepr Group, placing an order with Boeing for two new-build Boeing 747-400ER Freighters for delivery in late 2007 and early 2008. With a list price of $450 million, the arrival of the new, long-range cargo aircraft will see ABC commence scheduled services between Asia and North America via Russia using cross-polar routes, starting with Houston in November 2007. ABC has subsequently announced plans for a third 747-400ERF to join its fleet in 2008.
Other key milestones in 2006 included:
Arguably the most significant milestone came in October 2006 when AirBridge Cargo Airlines was awarded its own Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC).
ABC’s current fleet consists of six Boeing 747 freighters; five -200F versions and a B747-300F.
Today, AirBridge Cargo Airlines offers all-cargo air services that link:
In addition to these Boeing 747 cargo services, supported also by strong interline partnerships with other leading international airlines, ABC offers a comprehensive road transport distribution network in Russia and to other major cities in:
Under the leadership of Stan Wraight, President & CEO of AirBridge Cargo Airlines and Denis Ilyin, Senior Vice President & General Director, ABC is now ready to embark on the next stage of its exciting development.
Stan Wraight joined Volga-Dnepr Group in 2003 to lead the project to establish Russia’s first international scheduled cargo airline and to develop ABC’s fleet, route network and partnerships to support its long-term goal of becoming one of the world’s leading cargo airlines. With more than 30 years’ experience in senior air cargo management roles, responsible for sales, operations and marketing with major international airlines, he has extensive contacts in the worldwide air cargo industry.
Denis Ilyin was formerly Director of Operations for Volga-Dnepr Airlines and has worked for the Group since 1995. He was promoted to the post of Managing Director of ABC in April 2005 with responsibility for the day-to-day management of the airline, including sales, production and finance. He was appointed Senior VP and General Director of ABC in 2007.
Volga-Dnepr Group has made no secret of its high expectations for AirBridge Cargo, which already contributes 31% of the Group’s total annual revenues. Alexey Isaikin, President of the Group, plans for Volga-Dnepr to be among the world’s top 20 airlines by 2015 and is looking for scheduled operations to complement the company’s market leading solutions in the air charter market for outsize and heavyweight air cargo.
“The dynamic nature of the scheduled cargo industry gives us great confidence that our goal is quite possible to reach,” he commented as the Group announced record results for 2006 of $725 million, up 55% on 2005’s performance.
Route expansion will be key to ABC’s continual growth. The airline is currently at the advanced stage of planning for the launch of new cargo routes serving key markets in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South Asia. Another factor in the airline’s further development is its new cargo hub at Krasnoyarsk in the Russian Far East.
Krasnoyarsk offers unique potential as a transport hub by enabling ABC to achieve shorter transit times between Europe, Asia and America, and for cargo deliveries across Russia. Work is under way on a new 4,000 square metres cargo terminal in Krasnoyarsk plus apron parking spaces for AirBridge Cargo aircraft next to the building with a centralized fueling system. The new complex will also include a modern 2,000 sq mts business centre to host airlines, logistics companies and the storage operator. Phase one is due to open at the end of 2007.
The second stage of development is to be completed in 2008 to incorporate Tier II construction of the same area. Over the next ten years the plan is to build a ‘cargo village’ with a well-developed logistics infrastructure.
To support its long-term growth, in March 2007, Volga-Dnepr Group signed another contract with The Boeing Company, this time for five next generation Boeing 747-8 Freighters with options for five more of the same aircraft type. The value of the aircraft order is $1.4 billion. AirBridge Cargo Airlines will take delivery of the first 747-8 in 2010 with the next four following from 2011-2013.
In the near future, ABC plans to establish its own 747 maintenance facilities in Russia to improve its operating efficiency and is also developing new products for vulnerable, time sensitive and temperature-controlled products.
Underpinning every development is ABC’s strong commitment to high quality customer service. The airline continues to make significant investments in the people, technology and training resources necessary to deliver its commitment to round-the-clock customer service, including help with rate and schedule information, bookings and shipment tracking.
The airline’s team of experts also provides advice on local regulations and procedures in the markets AirBridge serves while its ‘Russian Help Desk’ supports overseas customers that wish to take advantage of the significant business development opportunities that exist in the Russian market.
To this end, ABC has also become the first Russian company to join leading industry associations such as Cargo 2000’s quality management programme, the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) and the Cool Chain Association.