Russia’s largest carrier Aeroflot (SU) has expanded its cargo services substantially through a partnership agreement with St. Petersburg-headquartered carrier Rossiya Airlines, the former Pulkovo Airlines. This cooperation, which commenced last March, proves to be beneficial for both sides, executives are saying.
The sales partnership in cargo includes all flights Rossiya operates between Europe and its home market Russia. This comprises line-haul services to five German airports and flights to Vienna, Paris, Nice, Milan, Rome, Rimini, Barcelona and Tenerife.
The airline pact has a two-fold advantage, states Valery Serafimov, Aeroflot’s Regional Cargo Manager Europe: “In addition to our own belly capacity we can offer the market the holds of Rossiya’s entire fleet which comprises 34 aircraft with direct access to St. Petersburg.” He goes on to say: “The results obtained up to now clearly confirm that we captured additional business and widened our reach substantially by marketing their and our own cargo capacity from a single source.”
Rapid transits of freight
This all the more since all flights operated by state-owned Rossiya from any European airport are bound for Moscow, Aeroflot’s own gateway. Therefore, transits to beyond destinations be it in Russia, the CIS states or the Far East are no problem and are done with no loss of time, the manager assures.
The unified sales activities are in line with the Russian government’s aim to further consolidating the aviation sector, which is still very fragmented. To compete successfully on a global scale an internationally operating airline must obtain a critical mass in terms of fleet, network and transport volumes. Unifying cargo sales activities like now done by Aeroflot and Rossiya are a further tool to drive the state supported consolidation process ahead.
SU Cargo ops in favor of Hahn
Responsible for the integrated sales activities is Aeroflot’s representation at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Besides Germany “these accounts for Austria, Switzerland and five more European countries – France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Netherlands” notes Valery Serafimov.
Hahn? This sounds peculiar at first sight because Aeroflot stopped serving the place in July 2013, as CargoForwarder Global had exclusively announced prior to the carrier’s pulling out.
At first, moving the SU representation over from Hahn to 120 kilometer distant Rhine-Main Airport was internally discussed for a while, but finally the management opted in favor of leaving things as they were. One of the reasons was that there are still a number of consignments running via SU Cargo’s former gateway in southwest Germany. Local handling agent VG Cargo, who accommodates the Russian carrier’s Sales Force, is responsible for labeling and consolidating the shipments, before they are forwarded via Autobahn to an airport of departure, served by Aeroflot or Rossiya. Trucking them to a place of choice for uplift is a necessary step in order to allocate consignments depending on the local situation with the available capacity usage: there are four daily SU flights ex Frankfurt – the same in Berlin. In addition Dusseldorf, Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgart Hannover and Dresden are destinations also served by either Aeroflot or Rossiya. “While in Berlin we’ve got plenty of capacity in the holds of our passenger aircraft for uplifting cargo, it’s completely different at Rhine-Main where the Moscow flights are jammed with goods most of the time,” states sales manager Eugen Strack.
Leap in transport capacity
More than a year ago, Aeroflot decided to step out of the loss making freighter operation and transport air freight only in the holds of their 150 passenger aircraft comprising fleet. Although separate financial cargo figures are not available it can be assumed that this decision has paid off. “After our joining forces with Rossiya the number of daily flights to and from the sales area represented by our Hahn station went up from 55 to 70. This is a 20 percent capacity increase,” says manager Serafimov. And this doesn’t seem to be the end of the line.
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