Antonov targets US cargo charters

04 / 04 / 2017

Specialist freighter operator Antonov Airlines wants to expand transatlantic all-cargo charter services as it leverages a bilateral air services agreement between Ukraine and the US.

The Kiev-based operator, with a fleet of Antonov An-124-100Fs and the sole Antonov An-225 mega freighter, will target the oil and gas energy market and the aerospace sector for charters.

The US aviation agreement, which was signed by Washington in 2015, cuts red tape and speeds up the carrier’s response time for quotes.

Paul Bingley, Antonov Airlines' Stansted-UK based commercial manager, said: “In 2015, the US and Ukraine signed a new ‘Open Skies’ bilateral air services agreement.

“This means that Antonov Airlines has been granted air charter exemptions for flights to and from the US. Effectively, we can now carry almost any type of cargo to or from the US with little notice.

“With our experience of aircraft manufacturing and operations, our An-124-100 modernisation programme means that we will also continue to serve the needs of the project forwarding industry with increased capacity aircraft for at least the next two decades.”

As part of that modernisation programme, said Bingley, all Ukrainian-built Antonov aircraft will have Russian components replaced by Ukrainian and western equipment.

“Antonov Co is also developing co-operation with UK companies, such as Dunlop, for the replacement of tyres on the An-124, An-225 and a whole host of other Antonov-produced aircraft.

“As a division of the design authority of the An-124, Antonov Airlines’ future capabilities are unrivalled.”

In December 2016, Antonov and Russian carrier Volga-Dnepr Airlines and ended Ruslan International, their An-124-100 freighter joint venture, after a ten-year partnership.

Volga-Dnepr Group’s business collaboration with Antonov will continue for the technical aspects of airworthiness and flight safety support of its An-124-100 fleet.

One aspect of the US air services agreement is that US airlines no longer have the automatic right to post objections to any cargo charter from Ukraine, which will allow for a rapid response to a charter request in a market where hours matter in winning business, said an Antonov official.