Russian Mail Plans to Operate Cargo Aircraft

Russia’s postal office is interested in leasing two freighter aircraft belonging to Ilyushin Finance and operated by Transaero Airlines until they went bankrupt. These are Tupolev-built Tu-204-100C, capable of transporting up to 30 tons per flight. This might be the beginning of building a larger all-cargo fleet by the mammoth organization.

Dmitry Strashnov, courtesy Russian Mail
Dmitry Strashnov, courtesy Russian Mail

The national postal agency expressed its interest in setting up an own fleet of leased cargo planes starting with the two former Transaero deployed Tupolevs. According to Russia Post Chief Dmitry Strashnov, the initial freighters will operate scheduled flights between cities in Siberia and destinations in Far East and Eastern Asia. He added to this that together with airmail consignments the planes shall also transport normal cargo shipments to increase the load factor and make their operation commercially viable. Touching the time perspective, Strashnov assured that Russian Post plans to commence cargo flights on international routes in the course of this year. 

Focusing on China routes
His words were complemented by Mikhail Evraev, Russian Deputy Minister of Communication and Mass Media, whose administration the mail company is part of since 2013. Evraev spoke of parcel delivery services from China to Russia as  the main task for the upcoming Russian Post operated Tupolev freighters. “The vast ma-jority of parcels entering our country stems from Chinese shippers and trading com-panies,” he said. This goes along with mail consignments of which most come also from China.
The Tupolev manufactured aircraft are capable of flying 3,900 kilometers with a maximum payload of 30 tons. Aviation experts consider the Tu-204C, propelled by two PS-90A Perm Motor Works-constructed engines, being an extremely reliable ‘workhorse’.

Mikhail Evraev
Mikhail Evraev

Targeting up to 30 freighters?
The intentions of Russian Mail to build up their own freighter fleet are anything but new. Already in 2012 they announced plans to acquire cargo aircraft and launch scheduled flights. The result of these considerations are known: nothing happened. Instead, their management was ousted due to charges of total inefficiency, poor service quality and sloppiness.
With new leaders in place, the company announced doubling revenues until 2018 to make the mammoth organization ready for an initial public offering, allowing it to provide banking services, reducing the number of unprofitable branches and focus-ing on providing deliveries from online retailers.
A key part of this strategic and organizational mid-term plan is operating their own freighter fleet. In a comment, Infomost Consulting Chief Boris Rybak stated that they would need between 25-30 cargo planes to successfully cover the vast domestic network together with major international routes. 

Compensating the loss of Transaero capacity
Now the time seems to be ripe for taking the first step. This all the more, since Russian Post’s former strategic partner Transaero has been dissolved, leaving a large gap in the transport of airmail. According to data, it encompassed 600 tons of mail shipments per month committed by Transaero to fly in and out the two Muscovite airports Domodedovo and Vnukovo.
As things stand, the reincarnation of the former plans promises to be more success-ful this time since the project is obviously backed by the Kremlin and the freighters, currently sidelined at Vnukovo are immediately available. Provided, however, the postal agency comes to terms with aircraft owner Ilyushin Finance. If so, Russia’s Mail intentions to build a large fleet of freighter aircraft would cross the first hurdle.

Heiner Siegmund

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