Russian air cargo in retreat

THE RANKS of Russian freighter operators swelled in April, as Transaero entered the maindeck market with the start of all-cargo operations with a leased Tupolev 204-100C aircraft.
The ‘plane was first deployed on a domestic routing from Moscow to Novosibirsk and Yakutsk, but management indicated that it wanted to use TU-204 freighters both on domestic and international sectors.
Transaero’s foray into the freighter business followed a strong first quarter that saw the carrier’s cargo traffic rise 19.9 per cent, with tonnage going up 12.9 per cent to 12,865 tonnes. This was carried in the bellies of its 97-passenger aircraft fleet, which include 24 B747s, 14 B777s and 15 B767s.
Management of Aeroflot, the only Russian passenger airline with a larger market share than Transaero, has a decidedly less upbeat take on the cargo market these days. In the summer, the carrier moved out of the all-cargo business, returning its three MD-11 freighters to lessor Boeing Capital. The carrier’s board of directors issued a statement describing further freighter operations as inefficient because they could not be operated profitably.
At the end of last year, Aeroflot stunned its long-serving GSAs when it abruptly terminated their contracts, effective January, stating that it would henceforth market its cargo capacity on-line.
Aeroflot had been operating regular MD-11F services to Frankfurt, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo.
Technically, the ranks of Russian freighter operators are likely to shrink further. 
Read Ian Putzger’s full piece on Russian airfreight in the next edition of Air Cargo News 23 September 2013 – Issue No. 761

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