AirBridgeCargo volume growth slows in 2018

Russian freighters continue to fly after Bermuda revokes airworthiness

Russian Aircraft face registration crisis following Bermuda's airworthiness directive. (Photo/Volga Dnepr)

Volga-Dnepr Group’s Russian subsidiary AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) reported a 2% increase in its year-over-year cargo handle, to more than 700,000 tonnes – likely lagging behind industry average growth rates of around 4%, and well off from recent years for which double-digit growth was the norm for ABC. On a higher note, growth rates for the carrier’s specialty cargo segments outpaced growth for AirBridgeCargo’s general cargo segment, the carrier said in a statement.

While the increase in specialty cargo – which supports carrier bottom lines more than general cargo – is good news for ABC, the 2% growth in volumes reported by the Russian carrier falls below the overall growth expected for the air freight industry in 2018 and below results beginning to roll in from other carriers. Dubai-based Emirates SkyCargo grew its total handle by 4% y-o-y to 2.6 million tonnes, thanks to expansions of its network and its new pharma corridor, which transported 73,000 tonnes of pharma cargo in 2018, our sister publication Air Cargo World reported. Meanwhile, although December results have not yet been released for all International Air Transport Association (IATA), year-to-date international air freight traffic through November was recently reported up 4.0% y-o-y in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs).

According to the airline, its special cargoes volumes went up by 25% y-o-y during 2018, with pharma volumes rising by more than 60%, dangerous goods shipments increasing by 40%, oversize and heavy cargo volumes rising by 20%, and e-commerce business growing by 6%. The carrier also added new destinations to its network in 2018, including Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), Shenzhen (SZX), Budapest (BUD), and Columbus (LCK).

E-commerce volumes transported by ABC and other Volga-Dnepr subsidiaries are likely to continue growing in 2019 and beyond, thanks to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) announced last month between Volga-Dnepr Group and Cainiao, the logistics arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. In support of the expected growth, in October 2018 ABC named Liège Airport (LGG) its new European hub. Sergey Lazarev, ABC’s General Director, said the carrier will grow its number of weekly flights to LGG by as much as thirty by mid-2020, in support of special cargoes generally, and e-commerce particularly. The carrier is expected to open 12,500 sq. meters of warehouse space at LGG by June of this year, with another 12,500 sq. meters expected in early 2020.

Those interested in learning more about trends in air freight are invited to join us Cargo Facts EMEA, to be held 4-6 February at The Westin Grand Frankfurt, where a panel discussion will be dedicated to the topic. To register or for more information, visit

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