Volga-Dnepr Group enters the B777F market with first delivery

By Damian Brett

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The Volga-Dnepr Group has entered the B777 freighter market following the delivery of its first aircraft of the type.

The aircraft was ordered by Volga-Dnepr in partnership with aircraft lessor Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) and adds to subsidiary AirBridgeCargo’s fleet of B747 freighters.

“Volga-Dnepr is dedicated to the development and optimal composition of the fleet, and believes that the 777F will allow it to take the next step in providing a more sustainable and efficient service to its customers,” the all-cargo group said in a statement.

The Russian airline group signaled its intent to enter into the B777F market at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show with a commitment for 29 of the aircraft.

It later firmed up its entry in the B777F sector with a lease deal for three of the aircraft from DAE Capital, with delivery of the first of the aircraft scheduled for this year.

“Volga-Dnepr is grateful to DAE for the support and the results of the efforts of the teams, which, in the conditions of an extremely difficult year for the entire world aviation (both airlines and leasing companies), allowed it to find solutions for the purchase and delivery of aircraft to its fleet,” Volga-Dnepr said.

The status of the Volga-Dnepr’s B777F order book was called into question earlier in the year when a dispute broke out between Volga-Dnepr UK and Boeing over the delivery of three B777Fs and a single B747-8F and whether or not the orders have been repudiated.

At the time, the Volga-Dnepr Group said that weak market conditions in 2019 resulted in it having to cut back its fleet, but that it would continue in its efforts to “ensure opportunities for new aircraft delivery”.

According to the Boeing website, Volga-Dnepr UK has a total of six B777Fs on order. This aircraft is presumably the first of those six to be delivered.

Last month, the airline announced the re-organisation of its sales structure, essentially bringing together the sales teams of its three airlines,  AirBridgeCargo, Volga-Dnepr and Atran, to allow them to sell across its porfolio of aircraft and services.

The Group operates both charter and scheduled freighter flights using its fleet of An-124-100/150, Il-76TD-90VD,  Boeing B747-8F, B747-400ERF, B737-800BCF and B737-400SF aircraft.

The B777F is able to offer 102 tonnes of capacity compared with the four-engine B747Fs 138 tonnes. The B747F also offers the flexibility of nose-loading for outsize cargo.

However, airlines have been increasingly moving to long-range twin-jet aircraft that are able to offer greater efficiencies than their four-engine counterparts.

As a result, Boeing last month announced that it would end its B747 programme in 2022 more than 50 years after its launch.

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