The relationship between Russia and the Ukraine continues to decline despite hopes earlier last year that maybe both countries would come some way in trying to settle their differences
and look to getting back to normal relations.
This has not happened and Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines has decided to change its sales team.
UK’s Stansted Airport as new sales base
Antonov Airlines is the operator of the large AN-225, AN-124 and AN-22 transport aircraft and was until recently working with Ruslan International as its general sales agent.
The cooperation between both companies ceased in 2016 because of political pressure from both Russia and the Ukraine.
Dreamlifts Limited is the name of the new GSA which takes up the reins as sales agent for Antonov Airlines.
The team which is made up with airline sales executives of which some have a long-standing relationship and experience with Antonov, is based at Stansted Airport and have their offices in Stansted’s Diamond Hanger where Antonov Airlines have also set up new offices.
A strong Antonov orientated team
The six-man team includes Paul Furlonger who knows Antonov well, having spent the last 26 years working with the carrier.
Other Antonov experts on the team are Graham Witton whose relationship with the company dates back to 1999 and Michael Goodisman who started his career with Antonov Airlines in 1996.
Paul Bingley, with 30 years aviation experience, the past 12 of which have been spent working together with Antonov - and Martin Griffiths who has both operational and sales experience with the AN-124, are joined by newcomer Martin Banns to complete the team.
Mr Banns has spent his entire career in aviation and also has a deep knowledge of the operational aspects on the AN-124 aircraft.
The new sales team will have the task of orienting Antonov Airlines deeper into the heavy-lift charter market, hold relationships with present clients and expand the customer base further from the UK base.
The heavy-lift fleet may grow further
Antonov Airlines which is a sub-division of Antonov Aircraft Manufacturing and exists for 25 years, operates with a total of thirteen Antonov aircraft.
The ‘one and only Myrya-AN-225', six engine transporter which is capable of carrying up to 250 tons is the eye-catcher of the fleet.
Seven AN-124 aircraft each capable of lifting 150 tons operate alongside a single 60 ton payload AN-22 propeller transporter.
Two smaller AN-12s, one AN-26 and one AN-74 round off the picture.
The AN-22 aircraft was originally designed and built for the Russian military and is very versatile with regards to operating in difficult terrain. There were rumors that Antonov would like to restart the AN-22 program again along with redesigning and continuing manufacture of the venerable AN-124 which is also the backbone of Russian based Volga-Dnepr Airlines fleet of heavy transport aircraft.
It seems that the new Antonov team have their work cut out for them in the coming years.
John Mc Donagh