Volga-Dnepr Group expands Cainiao partnership with Madrid freighter flights

By Damian Brett

Volga-Dnepr Group (VDG) has added a new freighter flight from Hong Kong to Madrid on behalf of the Cainiao Network — e-commerce giant Alibaba’s logistics arm — to cater for growing demand.

The flights, which will operate via Liege, will be carried out by VDG’s AirBridgeCargo using its B747 freighter aircraft. Flight frequencies will begin on a weekly basis but will be gradually increased to reach three-times-per-week in August.

The first flight took off on July 14 and carried 100 tonnes of cargo, including high-tech products and consumer goods exported by sellers on the AliExpress e-commerce platform.

“The parcels will be quickly distributed all over Europe after arriving in Liege and Madrid, through Cainiao’s network of trucking and terminal distribution in Europe, ensuring the delivery time frames of the whole process from China to Europe are kept within 10 days,” VDG said.

“Madrid will complement existing ABC northern destinations in Spain, Zaragoza, while offering the options to deliver to southern and central Spain from the Hong Kong catchment area.”

VDG executive operating officer Tatyana Arslanova said: “Since 2018, we have been closely working with Cainiao Network to develop fast, flexible, and cost-efficient solutions. This included expansion of our network, realignment of commercial and operational issues, choice of the most appropriate freighter type, and introduction of digital solutions.

“Starting from An-124-100, we have then begun operating other freighters within the Group for Cainiao to guarantee a greater choice and convenience through our CargoSupermarket concept.

“We will further support Cainiao with the fleet of best-in-class 39 freighters to accommodate e-commerce volumes, which have tripled within the Group for the first five months of 2020 and reached the level of 20,000 tons.”

William Xiong, Cainiao’s chief strategist and general manager of export logistics, added: “Cainiao has been working with partners globally to raise logistics efficiency and optimize user experience.

“This year, Cainiao plans to launch 1260 chartered flights to safeguard cross-border logistics and help Chinese merchants sell globally.”

VDG added that the new route will support cross-border deliveries, which have been booming over the last few years and increased even more rapidly during the Covid-19 lockdown period when consumers refocused from offline to online shopping.

In June, Cainiao revealed plans to quadruple its air cargo network as part of efforts to speed up delivery times.

It had previously signed an agreement with VDG that would see them develop a scheduled route network in Asia, Europe and Russia. Atran is already carrying out several flights on behalf of the Chinese logistics firm.

Earlier this week, VDG announced that it would be bringing the sales departments of its AirBridgeCargo, Volga-Dnepr and Atran into a single organisation to give customers more choice and allow the company to be more flexible and responsive. The three brands will remain in place.

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