A new airline from Volga-Dnepr? And new freighters?

The Volga-Dnepr Group hopes to place “at least three” of its An-124s in a new EU-registered airline to be based in Leipzig.

MADRID — Volga-Dnepr Group is planning to launch a new airline based in Leipzig, Germany, with some of the twelve AN-124 freighters in its fleet.

Slava Shakhov, a Commercial Manager at Moscow-based Volga-Dnepr Group, told Cargo Facts today that the company is planning to overhaul “at least three” of its An-124s – and that those freighters have been earmarked to be put on a new AOC by the end of 2018, for the launch of an airline to be based in Leipzig. Shakhov said neither a name for the airline nor a time frame for its launch have been determined. He said a more detailed plan for the airline will be unveiled by the company after the New Year.

But that was not all. Shakhov also said at SMi Group’s Military Airlift and Air-to-Air Refueling Conference here today that Volga-Dnepr is looking to acquire three 737-800s for conversion to freighter configuration for commercial use. The freighters would presumably be flown by V-D’s Atran unit, which already operates three 737-400Fs.

The Volga-Dnepr Group has three direct airline subsidiaries, all based in Moscow:

The Group had long wanted to have a scheduled-service  operation based in Europe, and tried to achieve that goal through a stake in Frankfurt-based Air Cargo Germany. When that carrier ceased operations in 2013, Volga-Dnepr backed the formation of UK-based CargoLogicAir (CLA) which launched in 2015. CLA has, so far, been successful and now operates three 747 freighters – one 747-8F, one 747-400ERF, and one 747-400F – in both charter service and, beginning this year, scheduled service.

In addition to the freighters operated by its four subsidiary carriers, the Volga-Dnepr Group also has fourteen more 747-8Fs on an MoU with Boeing. The MoU, signed at the Paris Air Show in 2015, was for twenty, and, so far, six have been delivered. Whether the company will take the remaining fourteen probably depends on future air freight demand, but with both AirBridgeCargo and CargoLogicAir reporting strong growth, Cargo Facts expects to see deliveries continuing at the rate of two or three units per year for the near future.

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