Moscow supports Volga-Dnepr with “unprecedented” deal
07 / 04 / 2022
By Damian Brett
The Russian government has signed an “unprecedented” deal with the Volga-Dnepr Group for the creation of air bridges between Russia and several countries to carry critical goods.
Writing in his blog, the Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, said that on behalf of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, an agreement had been signed with Volga-Dnepr for the operation of regular cargo services between Moscow and other Russian cities, as well as China, India, Turkey, the UAE, Azerbijan, Pakistan and Vietnam.
The deal is worth around R9.5bn ($120m) and by the end of the year is expected to have carried around 20,000 tons of critical cargo, including medicines, medical devices and consumables, food, information technology and communications equipment and components for Moscow enterprises.
“The cargo air bridge will restore the functioning of supply chains that were disrupted as a result of the imposition of sanctions,” Sobyanin wrote. “Thanks to the Moscow order, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which operates more than 70% of the fleet of Russian cargo aircraft, will be able to continue its activities and maintain a workforce of over 3,000 professional pilots, engineers and other highly qualified employees.
“The agreement is unprecedented. But in the current conditions, it is precisely such non-standard and bold solutions that are in demand.”
It is not clear whether the flights will be carried out by the Boeing aircraft operated by the group’s AirBridgeCargo subsidiary, or the Antonov and Ilyushin aircraft of Volga-Dnepr although in all likelihood it will be the latter.
Reports suggest around 16 of AirBridgeCargo’s 18 aircraft are leased and under sanctions aircraft lessors have been instructed to terminate any lease deals they have with Russian airlines.
This forced the airline to ground operations earlier this year.
BOC Aviation has already regained one of the three aircraft it had leased to the carrier.
Volga-Dnepr’s aircraft on the other hand continue to carry out flights, some even into European Union airspace which they are allowed to do under certain exemptions such as humanitarian aid and nuclear fuel.
Over the last seven days one of the carrier’s AN-124s and three of its IL-76s have completed flights to destinations such as Kazan, Istanbul, Dubai, Bahrain, Ulyanovsk, Moscow and Brno, according to FlightRadar24.