Moscow-based Volga-Dnepr Group, parent of scheduled service all-cargo operator AirBridge Cargo (ABC) and outsize and heavylift specialist Volga-Dnepr Airlines, confirmed that the Group would launch a new all-cargo carrier to provide feeder service within Russia for ABC, using a fleet of “seven to ten” freighter-converted 737s.
In an extensive interview in Russian Aviation, Volga-Dnepr Group executive Valery Gabriel said that while ABC’s international operations using 747 freighters were providing fast and efficient service, domestic feeder operations to and from the carrier’s twin Moscow hubs at Domodedovo and Sheremeyevo Airports were “illogical” both economically for the carrier and in terms of customer service.
Mr. Gabriel said Volga-Dnepr expected the new airline would be in service by the end of 2011, and that the 737 aircraft would be acquired from European carriers. Regarding the source of the conversions, he said that the work would be done “outside of Russia,” but did not specify a conversion house. At present three companies offer passenger-to-freighter conversion programs for 737-300s and -400s: Israel-based Bedek Aviation Group, and US-based Aeronautical Engineers Inc (AEI), and Pemco World Aircraft Services. Of these, Cargo Facts believes only AEI has received Russian certification for its program.