AirBridgeCargo details plans for new 747-8F fleet
Meier described the move as “part of our strategy to diversify and strengthen to other [European] industrial centers, and we can’t rule out others.” But he insisted this did not represent a weakening of ABC’s presence at Frankfurt, where it is the second biggest cargo carrier behind Lufthansa with 14 frequencies per week. He also said ABC was unaffected by Frankfurt’s recently imposed night-flight restrictions, since it had not been allowed to operate there at night anyway.
An advantage ABC claims over rival operators on the Asia-Europe lane is that it is serving Russian manufacturing centers. It has added new routes to Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk, with Khabarovsk in Russia’s far east following soon.
Last year, the Volga-Dnepr Group also acquired Atran-Aviatrans Cargo Airlines, based at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Atran operates three AN-12 freighters. Volga-Dnepr President Alexei Isaikin said the new subsidiary could provide a regional and feeder cargo service — something the group had previously hoped to develop in-house — and would replace the Antonovs with Boeing 737s.
Sparse details emerged at the Frankfurt briefing on how Volga-Dnepr will exploit the 49-percent stake it has taken in Air Cargo Germany. The main reasoning appears to be that the deal gives loss-making Air Cargo Germany fresh liquidity, while unlocking trans-Atlantic traffic rights for ABC.
Meier said ABC and Air Cargo Germany synchronized their schedules last week. The carriers currently operated on an interline basis and could firm up their cooperation to include code-sharing in the future, he indicated.
CEO Michael Bock said Air Cargo Germany’s four 747-400s could usefully supplement the ABC network. The carrier flies three times per week from Frankfurt Hahn to Shanghai over Almaty, a more direct route to China than ABC can offer since it omits Moscow. Air Cargo Germany also serves Johannesburg and Chicago twice a week and launched a Hahn-Mexico City service in April.