Volga-Dnepr Group continues to operate charter flights into China despite the current disruption to the air freight market.
Flown commodities include that of essential items in response to the Coronavirus outbreak such as masks, sanitiser gels, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. In addition to this, the fleet is depended upon to keep global supply chains moving by supporting some of the largest Chinese companies. On average three to five charter flights are being operated by Volga-Dnepr Group daily, with a number of preventive measures being taken to ensure the safety of personnel, cargo, and aircraft accordingly.
Several factors have affected the stability of demand for air transportation since the viral outbreak. Whilst the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has decided to temporarily limit passenger air traffic between Russia and China as of 1st February, there are no current restrictions to cargo airlines. Furthermore, China has also imposed restrictions on movement both inside and outside the country, with usual operations suspended by a number of Chinese enterprises.
The unforeseen impact of the coronavirus on air freight has necessitated operational changes at AirBridgeCargo (part of Volga-Dnepr Group) in order to properly address dynamic market conditions. This has resulted in reformulated capacity from scheduled to charter operations from 4th February. With an interim reduced schedule, some of AirBridgeCargo’s operational teams have been transferred to shift working patterns, and employees in China are also being enabled to work remotely.
Flight departments of all airlines of Volga-Dnepr Group (including Volga-Dnepr, AirBridgeCargo, and Atran) have received counter measure briefings, with personal protective equipment purchased and distributed to all flight crews already. The centralised Volga-Dnepr Group medical department has introduced regular monitoring of all flight personnel, regardless of global location of flight operation. There are no known cases of coronavirus infections of our employees to date.
Volga-Dnepr group has thirty years of experience in operating charters, including flights for the delivery of urgently needed supplies to regions with complex epidemiological situations. A working group for operational monitoring and response to the situation has been established at the company’s headquarters to ensure that we are able to respond to any immediate developments.
Employees of the Volga-Dnepr medical and flight departments have held discussions with the World Health Organization, Rospotrebnadzor and other entities on methods for personnel protection, handling, and disinfection of aircraft and cargo. Volga-Dnepr is considering the introduction of a “Clean Charter” product which will ensure the secure transportation of cargo during difficult epidemiological conditions where we have historically been called upon to support due to the Group’s unique cargo fleet.