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Russia’s Volga-Dnepr cargo airline will invest over $400 million in modernization of 124-100 Ruslan cargo aircraft

Russia's Volga-Dnepr cargo airline is planning an investment of more than $400 million in the modernization of the An-124-100 Ruslan cargo aircraft. Volga-Dnepr CEO Valery Gabriel told RIA Novosti on Monday of the firm’s plans. The upgrade program includes design and development work on modernization of the An-124's avionics and engines, Gabriel said.


The company plans to complete the upgrade by 2018. Volga-Dnepr, an outsize air cargo specialist, is the largest operator of the An-124, the biggest aircraft in the world.
Beginning 2000 the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) introduced a number of strict restrictions to operations of the aircraft empowered with the outdated equipment into European and North American countries, including Australia and Japan.


Therefore numerous Russian-manufactured aircraft equipped with the engines which do not meet the new international noise and emission standards were denied the right to operate into the world largest airports. Introduction of the new ICAO requirements resulted in the loss of the European and North American market in 2003 in amount of $110 million, an amount that may rise by 2015 up to $450 million.


Volga-Dnepr Group is the world leader in the unique, oversize and heavy cargo market. It includes two leading airline cargo companies – Volga-Dnepr Airlines and AirBridgeCargo Airlines. The Group employs 3,000 staff worldwide and has representative offices in nine countries.


Volga-Dnepr has initiated a number of large-scale projects which are important for the development of the Russian aviation industry and transportation system. The major projects include modernization of the IL-76 cargo aircraft, recommencing serial production of the AN-124 “Ruslan” freighter aircraft, and the development of a cargo hub at Sheremetyevo Airport, the first of its kind in Russia.


The Group’s business is based on air charter flights using unique AN-124-100 and IL-76 ramp freighter aircraft (Volga-Dnepr Airlines) and on scheduled flights operated by a fleet of Boeing 747 all-cargo aircraft (AirBridgeCargo Airlines). It combines the synergies of the two main businesses to offer a full range of air logistics solutions using both chartered and scheduled transportation.


Recently, Volga-Dnepr Airlines signed a long-term aviation fuel contract with Aerofuels Group for aircraft fueling at its hub at Russia’s Ulyanovsk Vostochny airport. The “TZK Aerofuels” and “Aerofuels Ulyanovsk” fueling facility will supply the required annual fuel volume for all of Volga-Dnepr’s outbound and inbound flights at the airport.  The massive modernization project is expected to open up new opportunities for the firm’s international business that has been greatly hampered by its old planes.


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