Although worldwide growth in airfreight demand has stalled in 2015, AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC, the scheduled service subsidiary of Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Group) is posting astonishing numbers.
The carrier said cargo volume was up 27% y-o-y in November to 50,000 tonnes. For the first eleven months of 2015, ABC said volume was up 20% to 439,000 tonnes, so the 27% gain in November shows that the growth is accelerating. AirBridge did not provide and detail about traffic, other than to say that RTKs for the year to date were up 25%
Other than the first two months, airfreight demand worldwide in 2015 has been almost flat with 2014, so AirBridge is not merely benefiting from and industry-wide surge. Rather, its gains are coming in the form of market share taken from other carriers. Given that AirBridge’s main business is on the Asia-Europe trade lane, it is not surprising to see some of its big competitors on that lane reporting steep falls in demand. Lufthansa, for example, reported November cargo traffic down 12.0%, and Air France-KLM was in the same situation, with traffic down 11.3% for the month.
With growth like this, it is not surprising that AirBridge has been expanding its capacity – most notably in the form of two new 747-8 Freighters taken within a few days of one another in late November. All told, AirBridge has taken delivery of five 747 freighters in 2015: two freighter-converted 747-400BCFs, one 747-400ERF production freighter, plus the two 747-8Fs.
These additions bring its total fleet to twenty units, including eight 747-8Fs, five 747-400ERFs, two 747-400Fs, two 747-400BCFs, and three 737-400Fs.
And the fleet will grow. Parent Volga-Dnepr Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Boeing at the Paris Air Show this year for up to twenty 747-8Fs. Of these, two have now been delivered, but AirBridge is likely to take two or three more per year for the next several years.