Customer demand: Volga-Dnepr Group develops air freight links between China and Europe
The Volga-Dnepr Group is continuing to extend its air bridges between China and Europe. Trying to meet the customer demand, its express air freight subsidiary Atran has started operating the second cargo route between Cologne and the Chinese cities.
In December, the Russian airline Atran, which is an express cargo carrier of the Volga-Dnepr Group, started its second air freight route between China and Germany. The connection between Shenzhen and Cologne is being served on a weekly basis with Boeing 737-800BCF aircraft.
Rising Chinese export
The Chinese city was chosen because of its increasing demand for high-tech exports, as well as its powerful e-commerce, fashion, healthcare industries and general cargo production. Vitaliy Andreev, Atran’s general manager, says that the route was open mostly as a response to Asian customers’ demand as their volumes have been constantly rising. “This is the second direct flight from China to Cologne/Bonn and it serves as a great alternative in Europe for many Chinese exporters. Our customers will appreciate the direct flights from Xi’an and Shenzhen,” he adds.
The connection between X’ian and Cologne had been open previously. In November, Atran started serving the regular air freight route from this 13-million city located in the central part of China with its Boeing 737-800BCF. The company specified that the service itself consisted of three segments with two technical landings in Krasnoyarsk and Moscow. The route between the Chinese and German cities takes 12 hours. One flight can carry up to 23 tonnes of various cargo, including general cargo, e-commerce, dangerous goods, live animals etc.
The Cologne/Bonn airport was chosen partly because of its long business relationships with Atran (the airport and company have been cooperating since 2012). The other reason, due to Andreev, is the fact it is “one of the few airports focused on creating favourable conditions for cargo aviation”. Facing the rising demand, it strengthened the cargo infrastructure and found the necessary resources, the Russian manager comments.
“Atran’s decision to operate a flight from Xi’an to Cologne is fully consistent with our desire to increase cargo turnover from China. At the moment, we note that more and more Chinese forwarders are choosing to use Cologne/Bonn Airport as an alternative to busy European airports,” says Thorsten Wiefer, director of cargo sector development at Cologne/Bonn Airport.
The Russian carrier already has experience in connecting various Chinese cities with its Russian hubs. At different times, the company served connections with Shijiazhuang, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Urumqi and Zhengzhou, Dalian, Shanghai. Some of them are still on its map. These and many other routes of the company are served with a fleet of three Boeing 737-400SF and six Boeing 737-800BCF.