AirBridge Cargo (ABC), the scheduled-service subsidiary of Moscow-based Volga-Dnepr Group is following through on its acquisition of a 49% stake in Air Cargo Germany (ACG) earlier this year in a big way. How big? Double Jumbo big, as AirBridge will transfer two of its 747-400ERFs to Frankfurt (Hahn)-based ACG. This expands a partnership (or thinly-disguised takeover) that already seemed to be working well (ACG would probably not have survived without the buy-in by the Volga-Dnepr Group, and in return, the deal effectively gave AirBridge fifth-freedom rights in Europe).
The two freighters will join the ACG fleet in October, following certification by Germany’s Aviation Authority. ACG currently operates two 747-400BCFs and two 747-400BDSFs, with the two BCFs (24061 and 24795) scheduled to be returned next year to Martinair (part of the Air France-KLM Group) from which ACG currently leases them.
Air Cargo Germany CEO Michael Bock said that the return of the BCFs to Martinair would not shrink ACG’s fleet: “We intend to replace these aging aircraft either by getting two younger B747-400Fs or the sister model B747-400ERF.” He did not specify a source for these newer freighters, but it is worth noting that in addition to three 747-8Fs, AirBridge has three more 747-400ERFs in its fleet and may want to move some of them to ACG when the two remaining 747-8Fs it has on order are delivered. With the fleet increasing from four to six freighters, ACG said it expected annual revenue to increase from €230 million in 2011 to €430 million next year.
Separately, ACG said it would launch three weekly frequencies on a Frankfurt-Beijing-Frankfurt route next month, as well as increasing its Chicago service from two to three weekly frequencies, and its Mexico City service from once to twice weekly.
Just for fun, here’s a video of one of AirBridge’s new 747-8Fs landing in windy conditions in Amsterdam.
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