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AIR CARGO FOCUSFREIGHTER OPERATORS Muscling in


While the air charter brokers work to make themselves an indispensable part of the project logistics supply chain, the cargo carriers that specialise in this business area are looking that way too. Mike Bryant reports.


W


hen it comes to moving big and heavy project cargo in the air, there are a limited number of freighter operators to which the charter brokers


can turn. Ruslan International is one source of capacity; it markets the cargo space of a substantial freighter fleet – 17 giant AN-124-100 aircraft operated by two carriers, Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr Airlines. With those carriers having been in the business for 20 years: “People know us and know where to come,” said Michael Goodisman, Ruslan business development manager.


Serving defence, non-governmental and supra-national bodies, such as the United Nations, as well as commercial customers, Ruslan’s aircraft undertake a wide range of charters – many of them project based. Thus, for example, Goodisman noted the well-established business it maintains for moving satellites. The aerospace sector is picking up, while oil and gas is another important market segment for Ruslan. Overall: “Project logistics is a big part of our work,” he affirmed.


It is also an increasingly important part of Ruslan’s business; defence-related work has tailed off somewhat, with commercial orders replacing that demand – at least, to some extent. “Business is good, we have been encouraged by the improvement in commercial sector demand,” he remarked. Some of Ruslan’s extensive freight capacity is booked several months ahead, the


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Project work provides great prestige to our operational portfolio because some projects are extremely complex. – Dennis Gliznoutsa, Volga-Dnepr Airlines


ideal situation for Goodisman and his colleagues. Of course, that is how Ruslan would like to commit its capacity, but it is not always the case in practice – much of its freighter capacity is not committed until the last moment when, as is typical with the charter business, a sudden emergency encourages a customer to turn to an air freight charter or when a rapid shipment of equipment is required in order to avoid penalty clauses for late delivery.


Early booking


Goodisman encourages his clients to book space far ahead. For example, he specifically points out to project customers that using one or more air cargo charters in preference to slower sea shipping may allow a production line to start work earlier than had been anticipated – meaning a significant potential increase in revenue. “We try to get this message across to project managers,” he emphasised. “We ask them always to


Business is good, we have been encouraged by the improvement in commercial sector demand. – Michael Goodisman, Ruslan


consider the AN-124 for their transport needs, not just for contingencies.” Of course, given its price, it is not easy to make cargo charters a project manager’s first choice for shipping everyday items, and the majority of Ruslan’s work remains dependent on more typical charter work relating to last-minute requirements. Its commercial clients – forwarders and brokers – remain very cost-conscious, Goodisman admitted, and not only are there are other modes but there are competitors for Ruslan’s air freight capacity. The good news is that the size of the project logistics pie is increasing, he added; so there is likely to be more work available for all.


One of the two contributors to Ruslan’s significant cargo capacity is Volga-Dnepr Airlines. Together with sister carrier AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), the scheduled service B747 freighter operator, the two Moscow based carriers make up the Volga-Dnepr Group. Volga-Dnepr Airlines is a specialist in


July/August 2013 Supplement www.heavyliftpfi.com


on heavy lift air charters


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