Monday, February 20, 2017

Heavy Lift Air Freight Specialists Prosper Post Divorce

Ex Partners Are Now Cargo Rivals
Shipping News Feature
UK – UKRAINE – SOUTH EAST ASIA – RUSSIA – Having successfully divorced each other following the difficult political situation between their respective countries it would seem that both Antonov Airlines and former collaborators Volga Dnepr are surviving under their own steam. The two companies separated from their mutual heavy lift specialist air freight partnership, Ruslan, in December and now trade as separate cargo entities.

Antonov has based its new UK headquarters at London Stansted Airport and has now completed its first charter operation from there using specialist machinery it designed to speed up the loading of a giant, British-manufactured helicopter. The helicopter loaded at Stansted’s Diamond hangar onto one of the airline’s seven AN-124-100 freighters and was destined for Southeast Asia. Paul Bingley, Commercial Manager at Antonov Airlines, who organised the charter, commented:

"It is a wonderful coincidence that one of the UK office’s first operations should take place on its doorstep. Such close proximity allowed us, not only to successfully test our specially-designed loading equipment, but also to work much more closely with our customer. You could say we arrived at the right place at the right time."

Although the Stansted operation is a new venture in many ways for Antonov it represents only a small part of the Ukrainian group’s capabilities with over 13,000 employees providing the design and maintenance authority for the AN freighter fleet and technical expertise for moving project and outsized cargo around the globe. Andriy Blagovisniy, Head of Commercial Development, reflected on this first charter saying:

"Our team in Kiev was pleased to work closely with our UK office for this move. Our in-house engineering expertise meant we were able to deliver an expert solution for this aerospace customer and we look forward to supporting many more companies in the defence, energy, humanitarian, industrial, automotive, and oil and gas sectors."

Meanwhile Volga-Dnepr Airlines has operated a series of An-124-100 and IL-76TD-90VD charter flights and utilised the scheduled Boeing 747 freighter services run by its sister airline, AirBridgeCargo (ABC), to help deugro Airfreight GmbH deliver vital equipment for a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) production plant on the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia. The project, which has stretched into a third year, commenced planning in 2015.

The actual carriage of air freight commenced in 2016 with two IL-76TD-90VD flights from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to Sabetta, Russia. The first flight carried 46 pieces weighing a total of 29 tonnes, followed three weeks later by a second transport with another 31 pieces totalling 17 tonnes. In November, more equipment destined for the LNG plant was carried on board AirBridgeCargo’s scheduled 747 freighter services from Singapore to Frankfurt and from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Amsterdam, from where the shipments then continued their journey by sea.

The most recent flights included an IL-76TD-90VD out of Liege and an An-124-100 out of Dalian, China, both at the end of January 2017, to deliver yet more vital equipment destined for the LNG plant in Sabetta. Tatyana Arslanova, Vice President of Strategic Management and Charter Cargo Operations at the Volga-Dnepr Group, commented:

“These air services operated for deugro support a major ocean freight project carrying cargo consolidated in Europe to northwest Siberia. With the winter season affecting ocean freight operations due to the build-up of ice, the time-critical shipments carried by Volga-Dnepr and AirBridgeCargo are enabling construction of the LNG plant to progress before severe winter weather slows down the project.

”The sensitivity and high value of the equipment were other factors in the decision to fly the cargo with us. Once again, we have been able to show a major customer the benefits we can offer through our ‘Cargo Supermarket’ concept, which, given the global nature and complexities of this project, not only provides important cost efficiencies but also a high level of flexibility.”

Freight forwarder deugro was awarded a large part of the logistics program for the Yamal project and has already shipped over 700,000 tonnes of cargo to module yards in China and the project site in Russia. In addition to organising various air charters using An-124-100, IL-76, and Boeing 747 freighters in support of the project, deugro has operated 16 voyages by sea to the remote, ice-bound port of Sabetta through the Northern Sea Route with more flights planned for 2017 using the Volga-Dnepr Group fleet. In a letter to Volga-Dnepr following the latest An-124-100 flight, Leonid Schwartz, General Director of Sabetta Airport, wrote:

“On behalf of Sabetta International Airport, thank you to the whole Volga-Dnepr team of professionals for the flights successfully performed on January 22, 2017 on the route Dalian-Sabetta. We wish your company new achievements and the successful implementation of all your plans, and we hope for future cooperation!”