Volga Dnepr CCO, Konstantin Vekshin, reflects on what helped VD weather the storm of 2020.
“2020 has been a turbulent year for many industries, with air cargo being no exception. But we managed to cope with the challenges, adjusting our flight schedule, planning charter flight programmes, operating urgent charters to guarantee delivery of much-needed cargo worldwide and assisting the regions and nations in their battle against COVID-19 spread. If we try to sum up all the on-goings, it would be:
Speed of reactions. With COVID-19 rapid spread, lockdowns and closure of borders, we needed to react quickly and adapt our regular schedule, process the charter permits, re-configure our network and re-route most of the flights via Krasnoyarsk (Russia) instead of Moscow (Russia) to avoid crew change in China and 14-day quarantine. This all happened within a month timeframe and, thanks to our experience, expertise and knowledge we managed to reshape the processes which normally would have taken months to complete.
Adaptability. We were able to adjust to the changing environment and introduce more charter options in the beginning and long-term charter programs for our long-standing customers later on to guarantee capacity availability and support our customers’ business activities. Apart from operational side, we had to make sure that we as a service provider and as an employer do not spread the novel virus, which could be achieved only with the introduction of additional biosafety measures. This covered additional investments into biosafety of our personnel (crew medical checks, COVID-19 tests, PEE, dedicated hotel accommodation and crew transportation) and equipment (disinfection of cargo and aircraft). We must also attribute the speed of our reactions and adaptability to the joint experience we share within Volga-Dnepr Group – throughout 30+ years we weathered various crisis and learned from the best experience (likes of battle against Ebola and yellow fever spread). Basically, we did not have to start from scratch, as most of internal procedures have already been in place.
Flexibility. We have always been easy in following the market sentiment and customer demand, which have enabled us to offer more charter options and long-term charter programs. This has later become the backbone of COVID-19 logistics as sometimes the situation changed within minutes and we all needed to act accordingly.
It is fair to notice that while 2019 had not been the best year for the air cargo industry, it helped us significantly to prepare for Covid-era, as we introduced additional measures for cost-optimisation and were prepared.
On top of that, we managed to transport over 580,000 tonnes of cargo worldwide onboard our freighter fleet which is 5% up YOY and serves as a good indicator that we have done the utmost to support our customers and contribute into uninterrupted supply chains movement.”