Turkey Overtakes China

The largest group of cargo airlines, Volga-Dnepr, has already suspended all international flights, while other airlines continue to fly on several domestically produced aircraft. Turkish carriers have become the main beneficiaries of the situation. Dmitry Nikulin, CEO of the Supercharter transport agency, ACEX Alliance partner, commented on the consequences of Western sanctions against the Russian aviation industry for Interfax.

Дмитрий Никулин“Traditionally, cargo is transported either in the luggage compartments of passenger aircraft or on separate cargo liners. Even before the imposition of sanctions, the passenger segment had not managed to recover to pre-pandemic levels, both in terms of volume and pricing policy. Cargo flights have increased during the pandemic, but not enough to bring freight prices down to pre-pandemic levels.

If we talk about the current situation (after the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions), then everything has collapsed: both passenger and cargo flights have become much smaller. Airlines with aircraft in their fleet that are not subject to international restrictions continue to fly. First of all, these are Russian-made aircraft. In particular, if we talk about cargo aircraft, then this is, as a rule, Soviet equipment - Il-76 and Tu-204 manufactured in the 90s and 2000s in the cargo version. But there are very few such aircraft, and this is the first thing that affects the current situation,” Dmitry Nikulin said.

The second factor, in his opinion, is that Russian airlines were banned from flying any aircraft to the states of Western Europe and Asia that joined their restrictions, "which Russia had a significant cargo flow with".

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“If we talk about our cargo carriers, the Volga-Dnepr group transported the bulk of the cargo. According to open data that we see, the airlines of the group (combines the company of the same name AirBridgeCargo and Atran) have completely stopped international flights,” the CEO of the Supercharter transport agency (partner of ACEX Alliance) comments.

The beneficiaries of the current situation are, first of all, Turkish Airlines, which, against the backdrop of increased demand, have increased their capacity for Russia, and now carry the bulk of international cargo to/from Russia. But even they, according to the expert, look very carefully at the range of goods sent: “Apparently, they must comply with the current restrictions of the countries to which these goods are sent.”

Chinese airlines, according to Nikulin, also continue to fly to Russia, but on a smaller scale than Turkish ones. The so-called passenger-and-freight flights, he said, have been suspended in almost all directions in proportion to the reduction in "regular" flights, with the exception of one-time flights to China. Against this background, an increase in such flights to Russia by aircraft from third countries is expected, he said.

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