Volga-Dnepr withdraws from NATO military contracts
Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Group has confirmed that it will not participate in NATO’s tender for cargo transportation. The company’s official statement reads that the group intends to reduce its presence in military transportation segment and focus on civil operations.
The airline’s existing contract with the alliance is valid until the end of the year. Under this agreement Volga-Dnepr operates its An-124 heavy lift aircraft in the interests of NATO within the framework of SALIS (Strategic Airlift Interim Solution) program.
The Russian airline emphasizes that it is open for cooperation with all organizations in terms of humanitarian cargo and emergency response.
Volga-Dnepr is the largest operator of An-124s in the world with 11 aircraft in its fleet. Notably, the withdrawal from military activities should not significantly hurt the group’s overall operational results, because its main business is generated by subsidiary AirBridgeCargo’s scheduled cargo operations. In 2017 the latter became Russia’s largest cargo airline, having carried 565,500 tons, up 12.8% on the previous year.
At the same time, the group’s outsized cargo turnover has been demonstrating a downward trend in the recent years. According to ATO Sourcebook, operational performance of parent Volga-Dnepr airline in the period from 2012 to 2016 shrank from 65,900 tons to 32,900 tons a year, whereas AirBridgCargo showed a more than 40% growth over the same period, from 352,700 tons to 501,500 tons a year.
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