ABC keeps on growing as Russia stabilises

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AirBridgeCargo (ABC) Airlines has continued record-breaking growth, while Russian airport volumes have stabilised following the slump caused by economic sanctions, Volga-Dnepr Group senior vice president, sales & marketing, Robert van de Weg tells Air Cargo Week (ACW) staff writer James Muir.

Cargo volumes at ABC, part of the Volga-Dnepr Group, grew 29 per cent in the first 10 months of 2016 to 498,177 tonnes, and by 30 per cent in October to 57,608 tonnes. In comparison, ABC handled 483,000 tonnes in the whole of 2015.

Van de Weg says ABC continued to grow while the airports struggled with economic sanctions and weakness of the Russian rouble, with imports seeing a sharp fall in 2015, though they are stabilising in 2016. He says: “Things are starting to get stronger, the worst is behind us.”

ABC’s hub is at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, and it has an extensive network throughout Russia, connecting with cities such as Yekaterinburg, Norilsk, Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk.

It has also been very busy expanding its international network with another weekly flight to Singapore, Houston – Abu Dhabi services, and new flights to the likes of Phnom Penh, Seattle, London and Oslo.

Van de Weg says Moscow’s location is a great advantage, telling ACW: “The main advantage of Moscow is it is on the way between Europe and Asia, it is a very efficient gateway and a relatively short route.”

Commenting on the Heathrow Airport route, which started on 3 November, van de Weg says it expands on the existing concept of connections via Moscow. The Thursday and Saturday service offers 100 tonnes of capacity and relieves pressure, particularly on routes to Asia.

Van de Weg comments: “Heathrow expands on an existing concept offering connections via our Moscow hub.

“The UK service could become more interesting depending on what happens politically. Brexit could be an additional advantage as moving via Europe could be more complicated.”

The weakness of the British pound could also help exports as they will be more competitive.

Expansion is not only about quantity, ABC is also working on quality. Van de Weg says “Moscow is a logical hub to connect with our markets, it has brilliant facilities for connectivity. The focus is on improving quality for special cargo. We have just received IATA CEIV Pharma certification – an important milestone.”