Moscow’s main cargo gateway Sheremetyevo International Airport and the hub of rapidly expanding AirBridgeCargo (ABC) Airlines has big plans to grow freight volumes.
The first two months of 2017 have seen dynamic growth and according to the Airports Council International Europe, it handled 27,888 tonnes, a 29.7 per cent year-on-year (YOY) rise on 2016. This included 13,319 tonnes in February (+19.3 per cent) and 14,569 tonnes in January (+41 per cent).
Transfer cargo passing through Sheremetyevo is one area seeing a significant uplift and this was part of a policy designed to attract international flows, leveraging Russia’s geographical advantage as a natural link in European-Asian transportation, but domestic cargo flows are also on the increase.
In 2016, the airport made serious investments in infrastructure at the cargo terminal, notably for perishable and temperature-sensitive cargo and last year, ABC earned Russia’s first ever IATA CEIV Pharma certificate.
The airport says this confirms the satisfaction of pharmaceutical-company requirements in shipments throughout the entire route network – first and foremost, through Sheremetyevo.
And the gateway also says the steps taken also led to an increase in the flow of perishables and temperature-sensitive cargo, and had a positive impact on the volumes of transfer cargo shipped through Sheremetyevo.
The expansion of ABC has fuelled the gateway as it handles more than 50 per cent of cargo flows in Russian civil aviation.
“Consequently, any changes in the volume of ABC freight have an impact on the cargo turnover of any Russian airport servicing the airline’s flights on a regular basis.
“Nevertheless, the spike in Sheremetyevo’s cargo flow seen in January was made possible not only thanks to ABC (14 per cent turnover growth over January 2016), but also thanks to Aeroflot, whose 51 per cent turnover increase led to a physical-indicator gain similar to that of АВС,” the airport says.
In 2017, Sheremetyevo intends to build on the growth trend in cargo shipments, which began in 2016. This forecast is based both on massive investments in the airport’s infrastructure, aimed at increasing cargo flows, as well as on the positive expectations of international experts in terms of projected growth in the global economy and trade, stabilisation in the world oil sector, and the start of Russia’s economic recovery.
Routes are set to expand further drive cargo and in 2017, Aeroflot will add more in Russia with flights planned to Belgorod, Salekhard and Khanty-Mansiysk.
In addition to the expansion of flight geography thanks to the growth of airlines already based at Sheremetyevo, the airport is focused on improving the efficiency of aviation commerce and attracting new carriers.
Infrastructure development is a major part of the growth strategy and construction is underway on a third runway, which will double the airport’s capacity for take-off-and-landing operations and support the take-off and landing of all aircraft, while a new, high-tech cargo complex is being commissioned.
In 2016, work began on building an automated new cargo-complex through an investment of $80 million and planned for commissioning in the third quarter this year.
Construction is being done in conjunction with Moscow Cargo LLC – Sheremetyevo’s partner in the terminal handling of cargo.
It will cover 42,300 square metres and phase one throughput capacity will be 380,000 tonnes per year, with the capability of increasing this number to one million tonnes.
This will be equipped with an automated system for the handling of cargo, making it the only one of its kind in Russia.
It will feature an automated bin system designed to handle 3,198 pallets, an automated ULD processing system with a capacity of 576 compartments, including 60 for temperature-sensitive freight (from +2 to +8 degrees Celsius) and 13 conveyor lines running to the airport, including a line for the receipt/dispatch of 20-foot pallets and 29 points of cargo acceptance/, two for the handling of bulky and oversized cargo and two for acceptance of express shipments.
The airport says the volumes Russia handles of air cargo are low considering its favourable geographic location connecting Asia-Europe and Asia-North America, but to attract the international flow of airfreight to Russia, improvements must be made.
These include reducing the cost of shipments; improving the quality of logistics services; eliminating administrative barriers having an adverse effect on the speed of customs clearance and other procedures; and developing the infrastructure of Russia’s regional airports to better handle transit airfreight.
Others are refining the system for organisation of air traffic along transit routes; introduce an e-freight standard; expand multimodal shipments on the basis of aviation hubs; and ratify the Montreal Convention of 1999.