The Russian airports have not been having an easy time for the past couple of years.
This applies especially to the cargo tonnage throughput which has been seriously hampered by the long list of sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of the Crimean crisis.
The same applies in part for the passenger handling as Russian tourists shied away from foreign travel and as traffic to Turkey dried up overnight when Putin introduced a veto on travel there.
How then are Moscow’s airports looking at improving cargo traffic?
Exports from Russia, especially the famous vodka brands, have dropped considerably as well as imports due to a tit-for-tat ruling introduced by the Russian government on the import of foodstuffs, perishables and so on.
Moscow’s Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports have seen large business declines.
The continued drop in the price of oil has also seriously affected Russia’s foreign reserves.
Experts estimate that since the start of the crisis exports have gone down by at least 35-40 percent and imports also dropped in the high twenty percent area.
Domodedovo and Shermetyevo have started on a plan to try and boost business through their individual cargo facilities by looking seriously at redesigning or reworking their present handling infrastructures in the hope that this will attract cargo carriers.
Sheremetyevo has one advantage in that AirBridgeCargo uses it as their main Russian base and cargo volumes from the Volga-Dnepr daughter continue to rise steadily.
However, the airport cannot just rely on one client. Too dangerous if ABC were to move elsewhere, although unlikely.
AirBridgeCargo is in the middle of striving for its CEIV accreditation in Moscow and needs all the support it can get from the authorities there.
Not an easy task considering that the airport often faces backups on cargo whereby it is not handled and cleared fast enough in order to convince customers to use the Moscow airport.
Archaic customs system
Systems and basic thinking have to change in order to attract new clients and keep the present ones somewhat happy.
Customs regulations, as in most countries are strict - and rightly so.
However, Russian customs are not known for their willingness to discuss and look at speeding up the somewhat archaic system in order to keep flows moving.
This at first has to change before the Moscow airports managers and sales teams can go out on the street and attract new clients.
A long road, but it is gratifying to see that the two main Moscow hubs have recognized the future problem and are striving to look for ways to make MOW attractive.
John Mc Donagh