Russian freight traffic growth hit 15.7% in 2017

Worldwide air freight shipments set a 10-year record last year AirBridgeCargo led the rating with over 565,000 tons moved (AirBridgeCargo)

Russian airlines demonstrated a 15.7% year-on-year growth in freight and mail traffic in 2017 to 1.131 million tons, the Federal Air Transport Agency reports.

The country’s air freight sector has been growing consistently in the past several years. The 2016 figure stood at around 0.6%, given the 1.2% decline on the international cargo market. The segment grew 2.7% in 2015, despite the fact that domestic operations dropped a whopping 14.2%.

Russian airlines carried 288,100 t of freight domestically (+6.1%) and 842,600 t internationally last year.

Freight operator AirBridgeCargo (ABC) demonstrated the best results among the Russian cargo carriers with 565,5 t carried, 12.8% up on 2016. The company’s traffic had shrunk 4.6% in 2016 compared to the year before, when it was the only top-five operator to demonstrate positive dynamics at +19.7%.

ABC’s H1 2017 traffic grew on the back of high Asia-Pacific demand (the operator launched a service to Taipei, for example). The airline took delivery of a Boeing 747-8F in April, and became the first carrier to be certified for transporting pharma products last fall.

The highest growth among the top five Russian freight operators was registered by Rossiya Airlines, at 52.8% (32.8 tons). The flag carrier Aeroflot came second with 29.1% (226,600 tons), followed by Volga-Dnepr Group with 14.4% (37,600 tons). S7 Airlines was the only operator to report a negative result of -0.3% at 34,900 tons.

For the first time since operations began, the top-35 ranking included LLC Pobeda Airlines (17th position with 6,000 tons, up 18.6 times on 2016) and Nordwind Airlines (27th, with 1,700 tons, up 4.5 times). Pobeda’s results were partially attributed to its efforts to expand fleet and cut down on turnaround times, which currently stand at 30 minutes. Nordwind was also adding new aircraft throughout the year.

Aviastar-TU and VIM Airlines (the latter folded last year) registered a growth of 42.4% and 43.2%, respectively. Aviastar-TU’s boost in cargo traffic was predominantly due to the launching of operations to China on behalf of Russian Post.

Worldwide, IATA reported a 9.7% growth in cargo traffic for January-November 2017, or three times higher than the annual average in the preceding decade. In 2018, the organization expects the growth to be at 4.5%.

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