Exclusive - Volga-Dnepr Ups AN-124 Freighter Fleet

The world’s number one in oversize and heavy cargo transportation Volga-Dnepr Airlines intends taking over two AN-124-100 freighters from its former and meanwhile insolvent Russian rival Polet Airlines. Both aircraft belong to Ilyushin Finance Co. and are currently sidelined at an airport in Moscow, a person close to the issue confirmed to CargoForwarder Global.

One of former Polet Airlines operated AN-124-100 that is expected to soon join Volga-Dnepr’s fleet.
One of former Polet Airlines operated AN-124-100 that is expected to soon join Volga-Dnepr’s fleet.

Once the deal is inked, which is expected to happen shortly, Volga-Dnepr’s number of 124s will be upped by two units, altogether totaling twelve of the Antonov constructed large aircraft.
In that case, the Ulyanovsk-based charter specialist will be the sole commercial Russian carrier operating the large freighters. It will result in a transport monopoly held by V-D in this specific segment of oversize and heavy shipments, putting the capacity provider in a comfortable situation. For clients, however, such as firms engaged in the oil, gas, energy or aerospace industry, this strong market position could result in price increases they will have to pay when chartering one of the AN-124-100 “Ruslans.”
 
Charter market is rather flat
Originally, both aircraft were operated by Polet Airlines, another specialist of charter solutions. But the highly indebted carrier bit the dust last December after having failed to pay large amounts of leasing fees to owner Ilyushin Finance. According to local Russian sources the leasing charges demanded by Ilyushin amounted to a nominal value equivalent to €2.5 million. Unable to pay the debts, a Moscow court ordered the immediate stopping of flights and the complete closure of Polet Airlines.
It remains to be seen in what way Volga-Dnepr Airlines will utilize the additional capacity of the two AN-124-100s since the charter market is currently not really burgeoning. Also unknown at this point is if V-D intends purchasing the freighters or lease them from Ilyushin Finance, as Polet did for many years before they went bankrupt.
These and more details will hopefully be made public after the deal has been concluded.

Heiner Siegmund

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