The Russian Postal Service celebrated its international maiden flight on 30 December by operating a Tu-204C from China to Siberia. Originally, the freighter together with a second type of this Tupolev-produced series belonged to insolvent carrier Transaero.
Loaded on board the all-cargo aircraft were 21 tons of mail consignments and e-commerce goods bound from Harbin in northeast China to Yekaterinburg near to the Ural mountain range in central
Russia. "Currently, over 90 percent of all incoming mail consignments in Russia stem from China. Therefore, the introduction of air routes linking both countries for securing fast delivery of
letters together with the growing number of e-commerce items are a reaction to the steadily increasing intensity of cross-border trade and communication exchange,” stated Dmitry Strashnova,
Russian Post’s general director upon the arrival of the freighter in Yekaterinburg.
The new postal air service optimizes transport costs of postal items and packages together with securing faster deliveries to the final consignees, claims Russian Post. However, the commercial risks of these flights are considerable because loads are expected to be extremely imbalanced due to high imports from China but very poor exports leaving Russia by air.
Despite these concerns voiced by some Muscovite experts Russian Post officials float on cloud nine after all went well with their initial international mail flight. They revealed a masterplan, announcing a broader postal network spanning from Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk in Russia to Beijing, Shenzhen, Changchun and other Chinese cities. In addition to Moscow, St. Petersburg and the above-mentioned two Siberian cities Russian Post is currently integrating Norilsk, Yakutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk and some other Russian cities in their network. This, regardless of the existing schedule of operators like Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, UTAir Aviation, Ural Airlines and some others that carry lots of mail consignments day by day in the lower decks of their passenger jetliners all across the vast country.
However, it remains questionable if Post Chief Srashnova will be able to reap the fruits of his far-reaching strategy on international postal air services. This, because he together with some high ranking executives of Russian Post are the subject of investigations by law enforcement agencies alleging that they have granted themselves excessive bonus payments and inflated salaries. In a statement, Russian Post officially denied these allegations.