Volga-Dnepr Group notes ‘stable’ first-half results

By Rachelle Harry

Volga-Dnepr Group, which is in its 30th year of operations, said it has performed with “stability and consistency” in the first half of this year.

Total revenue across the Group’s three airlines (Volga-Dnepr Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines and ATRAN Airlines), was up by more than 40% year on year, which was achieved “thanks to a quick response to market situations, the adaptation of strategy towards a new reality and interim changes of the carriers’ business models with a focus on charters’ programmes”.

“Amid over 18% and 19% drop in the overall market tonnage and FTKs (freight tonne-km), respectively, the Group managed to hold on to 5% and 10% decrease,” the company said. “FTKs showed a slight decline, given that most of the flights were operated as charters and transported low-density PPE. For the first six months of 2020, the Groups’ share in FTKs has increased by 5% year on year”.

From January to June, the Group transported more than 25,000 tonnes of medical cargo including PPE, medical beds and mattresses, artificial lung ventilation apparatus, as well as oversized and heavy sterilisation vehicles.

The Group also launched an ‘antivirus action plan’, which included investing into disinfecting its fleet and cargo onboard and where necessary, allocating budget to PPE and Covid-19 test kits for its staff.

Konstantin Vekshin, chief commercial officer at Volga-Dnepr Group, commented: “E-commerce and pharma shipments have become the biggest growth drivers and have demonstrated almost three and two-and-a-half-fold increase respectively, tipping the point of 30,000 and 35,000 tonnes.

“The cargo was delivered both through charter and scheduled operations. Industry-wise, we have more than doubled our oil and gas operations and reached over 20% surge in Aerospace operations onboard unique ramp freighters – An-124-100/150 and Il-76TD-90VD. Whereas a lot of projects have been frozen following a pandemic, major manufacturers managed to keep their operations.

He added: “It is also noteworthy that this crisis situation pushed the development of online cargo bookings, not only through our own website channel but also through our partners’ platforms, likes of WebCargo and cargo.one. In our tech-savvy world omnichannel approach is the key to successful customer relations and overall customer experience enhancement.”

Tatyana Arslanova, chief operating officer at Volga-Dnepr Group, said: “We would like to thank our customers and partners for their support during the tough period at the end of 2019 – the beginning of 2020. Their trust has become the key factor which allowed us to overcome the challenges, introduce necessary changes and feel confident about the Group’s future under new normal.”

The performance is a turnaround from last year when the company was going through a tough patch as a result of a trade war-related downturn. In October last year Air Cargo News reported that the company cut jobs, while it also had to adjust its network. It also implemented an optimisation plan, with reports suggesting it had to delay staff payments and restructured its management team after a tough first half that saw volumes decline 6% year on year.

This year the group is one of a number of freighter operators that have seen the market turn in their favour. Although demand is down as a result of the covid crisis, a shortage of capacity – due to the grounding of passenger operations – and urgent demand has driven up rates, protecting revenues and increasing profitability.

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