What had been rumoured for weeks, has now be officially confirmed to CargoForwarder Global: Wolfgang Meier has been nominated Senior Vice President of the Silkway Group, with its three main pillars Silkway Airlines, Silkway West Airlines and Silkway Italia. The former AirBridgeCargo/Volga-Dnepr executive is responsible for the commercial development of the Azeri Silkway Group.
The Frankfurt-born manager started his Silkway commitment already on 1 July, but was not available for comment on his new duties and tasks or delivering an overview. For observers, this is
anything but surprising since the Azeri cargo carrier traditionally prefers following a very restrictive communication course.
Baku as hub of the traditional Silk Way
However, despite missing insights it can be strongly assumed that Meier’s prime duty is to determine the group’s course for further growth. This can be concluded from statements of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev at a German-Azeri symposium on economic development and partnership, held 7 July in Berlin. There, Mr Aliyev announced developing the country’s capital Baku into a global hub for multimodal transports, putting an emphasize on air traffic, for linking Europe with the Far East, even connecting the Americas and Africa. He pointed out the enormous importance of the oil and gas sector, contributing around 35 percent to his country’s GDP. “We intend to enlarge the port facilities and further strengthen the air freight business,” he said.
To realize these ambitious plans, the state-owned Silkway Group of Airlines is an important strategic tool, funded by the many oil fields extending far into the Caspian Sea.
An-124 freighter becomes latest fleet member
Founded only in 2001, Silkway has meanwhile developed into a major capacity provider with a growing fleet and network. Only recently, the carrier has entered a lease agreement with Russia’s Ilyushin Finance to acquire one Antonov An-124-100 cargo aircraft. The aircraft in question used to operate in the now defunct Polet Airways fleet and is expected to be in operation with Silk Way in the very near future.
The huge An-124 is designed especially for the transport of very large and heavy industrial goods such as mining and oil & gas equipment, much needed by the industry in Baku. The carrier
Only some days ago, Group member Silk Way West Airlines started flying twice weekly to Singapore, operating a Boeing 747-8F.
The capacity provider points out that its hub Heydar Aliyev International Airport (GYD), offers geographic advantages for any carrier serving routes from Asia to Europe and back. Competitive fuel prices at Baku provide a further incentive to interested airlines for adding Baku to their network.
Given the market objective to become one of the world’s major cargo groups, their new CEO Wolfgang Meier is facing a major challenge. But his former job at ABC and Volga-Dnepr as their Group VP, Marketing and Development should enable him to handle the new tasks successfully.