Antonov Airlines has a very strong start following the end of Ruslan International, commercial executive Paul Bingley (pictured) tells Air Cargo Week.
Ruslan International had been formed as a joint venture between Antonov Company and Volga-Dnepr Airlines in 2006 but ended on 31 December 2016.
Dreamlifts, trading as Antonov Airlines took the lead in the global sales and operations of the unique Antonov AN-124-100 based at London Stansted Airport’s Diamond Hangar.
Bingley says the start of 2017 has been “extremely good” with strong demand in the last three months, and though geo-political situations can affect demand but he expects business to keep growing.
Describing the end of Ruslan and launch of Dreamlift, Bingley says: “The process of change was seamless, meaning our customers enjoyed an unbroken service. The market has reacted very positively to the change. We have certainly seen an upturn in demand and we’ve been working hard to keep up with the pace.”
Antonov has been staying busy with interesting charters, including delivering a GE90 aircraft engine to an unserviceable Swiss International Airlines Boeing 777-300 stranded in the Canadian Arctic.
It also flew emergency mining equipment from Chile to Argentina in a flight lasting just 39 minutes, to avoid a long trucking delay caused by adverse weather conditions in the Andes.
Peacekeeping operations also remain important, Bingley says: “We are proud to support the peacekeeping and humanitarian operations of the United Nations. Antonov Airlines performed almost 20 flights since the beginning of the year from different corners of the world for the UN missions in Africa, delivering vital cargo to maintain peace in the region.”
He says being a division of the design authority of the AN-124-100 puts them in a unique position to be able to offer special versions of the aircraft.
Bingley explains: “We operate the world’s most advanced model – the An-124-100M-150 – which boasts a mix of western and Ukrainian avionics, a reinforced fuselage allowing up to 150,000kg payload, and a modified nose shape offering greater fuel efficiency.”
Antonov Airlines also operates the world’s biggest turboprop aircraft, the AN-22 Antei, which has the same cargo cabin height as the AN-124. The flagship of the Antonov fleet remains the AN-225 Mriya with its 250 tonne payload, twice the AN-124.
“The AN-225 is the only aircraft that can transport outsized cargo that exceeds the volume of cargo cabin and the maximum possible payload of the AN-124, offering solutions to the most complex of transport logistics tasks. Our slogan is “No other name carries more weight” for a reason.”
As the future, Antonov is working on gaining a foothold in the Far East and Americas, with plans underway to open offices in both regions.
Bingley says: “Thanks to the Open Skies agreement between the US and Ukraine, there are now excellent links between the two countries, which will certainly help us grow our presence.”