Volga-Dnepr Group grows amidst the challenges

This is possibly one of the most eventful years in the history of the Volga-Dnepr Group, what with its scheduled air cargo carrier AirBridgeCargo Airlines celebrating its tenth anniversary and both it and its heavy and outsized division under Volga-Dnepr Airlines enjoying healthy growth. But challenges do loom, most pertinently those revolving around geopolitical issues that have not fully run their course. Manfred Singh reports.


Volga-Dnepr Group grows amidst the challenges


While 2014 happens to be the tenth anniversary of the cargo carrier, it is also the year when it is most looking to truly fulfill all that its’ name ‘AirBridge’ stands for. That word encapsulates the philosophy of ABC: With its home in Russia, the carrier is pursuing its ambition to connect markets in Europe, North America and Asia.

Born in 2004 with just one B747-200 and five routes, ABC looks all set to reach another high this year after creating a record in 2013. AirBridgeCargo Airlines increased its cargo tonnage by five per cent in 2013, achieving its highest-ever annual volume of 340,000 tonnes across its network, according to Wolfgang Meier, vice president, Marketing and Development, of parent company Volga- Dnepr Group. He also mentioned that the airline had reported volume growth on all of its major routes. ABC’s freight tonne-kilometers rose 15 per cent in 2013, while its average load factor of 72 per cent showed a marginal 1.7 per cent gain over 2012 and “continues to be well above the average for the industry”, emphasised Meier.

Where does ABC go from here? Volga-Dnepr Group’s president Alexey Isaikin sees 2014 as the year to take off. He has said that the biggest challenge the Group faced in the initial years was the creation of a corporate culture that would be appropriate for ABC’s business and its future. “I now believe,” he said recently in Volga-Dnepr’s Cargo Supermarket newsletter, “we have that culture in place and that it will be the platform for the next exciting state of AirBridgeCargo’s development.”