Volga Dnepr Group was the only non-maritime exhibitor at the latest edition of Breakbulk Europe in Antwerp from 23 until 26 May. CargoForwarder Global spoke with Steve Downing, Head of Logistics, about the group’s ‘cargo supermarket’ concept.
Volga-Dnepr is far from being the odd company out in this annual well-attended event, which tends to bring together the pick of the project cargo and heavy-lift industry. It is, to be honest, an
almost 100% maritime event.
“But we are the breakbulk of the air,” says Steve. “Our cargo supermarket is a product that we put on the market 7 years ago, developing end-to-end logistics solutions for shippers, brokers and forwarders alike. Of course, it is primarily air cargo driven, including trucking to and from the airport. It is also a pure charter service, but if we cannot help our customers with our aircraft, we are also directly speaking with vessel owners.
Ruslan is an important sales mechanism
The cargo supermarket is considered a very new concept both within the company and the industry. “We know that freight forwarders and principals have specific requirements. We offer them a single point of contact. Of course, our core product are the aircraft.”
An important sales mechanism is Ruslan, a joint-venture between RussVolga-Dnepr and Antonov Design Bureau. It brings together a combined fleet of 19 Antonov AN-124s, 7 of which fly the ADB livery and 12 Volga-Dnepr Airlines’.
Traditionally, the premier focus has been on Oil & Gas, which happens to be an industry in temporary decline. “We are however in a very fortunate position in having a wide range of industry verticals. The downturn in Oil & Gas has been offset by an upturn in aerospace. There is also mining as well as construction, governments and NGO’s, supporting major disaster relieve operations and automotive. This is where our scheduled airline AirBridgeCargo steps in.”
Africa is a sleeping giant
On top of this there are a lot of geographical opportunities to be explored. “Iran is very much on our radar. There is also Africa, which is a sleeping giant. The most interesting pockets are Mozambique, but also Nigeria, Ghana and –perhaps surprisingly- South-Sudan. Of course there is a maximum presence of the Chinese on this continent, but we have a unique product on offer.”
As a charter operator, Volga-Dnepr can steer away from the low rates to which most of the air cargo industry is exposed, says Steve. So far the fact of Volga-Dnepr being Russian has not hampered the business, he concludes. “We are a Russian company with a global footprint. So far, we have not felt a negative impact of any anti-Russian feeling whatsoever.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels