AirBridgeCargo is one of the global cargo carriers with an expanded international route network which connects customers in the largest trans-regional markets of Asia, Europe, and North America and covers more than 30 major cargo gateways, accommodating trade flows worldwide. All the flights are operated via Russia to guarantee seamless connection throughout the airline’s expanded international network within a 48-hour delivery time, including handling, all managed by highly skilled and qualified ground handling personnel. ABC’s fleet consists of Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 freighters and is one of the youngest and most modern in the airline industry. Operating at the market since 2004, ABC is committed to catering to the needs of its customers worldwide with the services of high quality. The excellent operating advantages of ABC’s freighter fleet, the performance of the airline’s highly-skilled personnel, and constant improvements of its internal processes enable the airline to carry all types of air cargo in full compliance with global industry standards, including cargoes requiring observance of special handling conditions. The Company is constantly reviewing its existing service offers to realign them with market and customers’ expectations. Interview with Alexey Zotov, Sales Director of AirBridgeCargo Airlines. Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company? Alexey Zotov: The company operates scheduled flights connecting major cargo gateways of Asia, Europe and North America, as well as dedicated charter flights, long-term charter and ACMI programmes to cater to the needs of its customers worldwide, especially during the post-pandemic capacity constraints. Being one of the global all-cargo carriers, ABC aims to guarantee safe and fast delivery of all types of cargoes, including general and special ones which require high competence, vast experience and qualifications, such as time- and temperature-sensitive, dangerous goods, live animals, e-commerce, XL shipments and others for various industries across the globe (high tech, healthcare, e-commerce, aerospace, energy, Oil & Gas and many others). E.E: What’s the news for 2021 about new products? 4. What are the ranges of products? A.Z: In 2020 amid the pandemic with capacity constraints and lockdowns, as well as following our customers’ needs, we have introduced long-term charter programmes and ACMI programmes. We still keep the scheduled and charter options for all our customers but have noticed that some of our long-standing customers appreciated long-term and ACMI options which enabled them to keep the uninterrupted supply chains during these turbulent times. Commodity-wise, we still offer dedicated solutions for special types of cargo – abc pharma (for healthcare products), abc DG (for dangerous goods including CAO), abc care (for live animals’ transportations), abc DG/Li (for items with lithium batteries inside), abc fresh (for perishables), abc XL (for out of gauge shipments), abc e-com (for e-commerce shipments) and others. Since 2020 we have strengthened our vaccine offer in line with vaccine manufacturers’ requirements, the standard procedures of IATA CEIV and IATA Vaccine Transportation guidance to be able to leverage the growing volumes of COVID-19 vaccines and guarantee integrity of life-saving products throughout the whole supply chain. E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active? What can you tell us about market trends? A.Z: 2020 was a turbulent year for the industry but for air cargo sector it was rather positive as the services of all-cargo carriers were in high demand and the companies guaranteed stable supply chains and delivered essential cargo (PPE, medicines, equipment) to various countries across the globe. In the beginning of 2021, the air cargo demand completed its recovery to pre-covid 2019 levels and in fact it was 9% up in February vs. 2019. Amid the capacity shortage and slow belly capacity return it is expected that the air cargo volumes will be growing, although the growth rates will differ region by region based on capacity availability, with APAC and North America being among the leaders, and other regions following. We still expect demand for special cargo transportations and are focused on providing dedicated logistics solutions for healthcare, high tech and e-commerce industries which have been ramping up during the pandemic. Apart from that, we will still support our customers with charter options from traditional project cargo area, likes of Oil & Gas, aerospace, energy and humanitarians, either through our services (AirBridgeCargo) or through carriers within Volga-Dnepr Group – Volga-Dnepr Airlines (operating An-124-100/150, Il076TD-90VD) and ATRAN Airlines (with Boeing 737 freighters). E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed? A.Z: Innovative is a very strong word for the air cargo industry, we would rather refer to our service upgrades as improvements, which cover various areas within our daily operations but influence overall performance and customer experience. Product and service-wise, we have expanded number of options, as has been stated before with long-term charter and ACMI programmes. We have also strengthened our healthcare offer with special focus on vaccines. Operations-wise, we have enlarged our fleet with Boeing 777F delivered last year and are favouring this two-engine freighter which is more eco-friendly and cost efficient. We are also working with various ULD providers to offer special temperature-controlled solutions (likes of Envirotainer, DoKaSch, Va-q-Tec, Sonoco, and others), introduced usage of improved ULD (PMC with extenders) for bulk cargo to use the empty loadable space in lower deck compartment, negotiated with OEM the possibility to increase dry ice limit to be able to transport certain types of vaccines. Digitally-wise, we are aimed at enhancement of customer journey experience through user-friendly online booking solutions & e-services via websites and partners’ platforms. The ‘work-from-home’ environment put additional hurdles as the boundaries between business and private have been dissolved and customers expected the similar level of digitalization that they get as consumers. That said, we improved our online booking tool to facilitate smooth ‘work-from-home’ process for customers with constant booking confirmations, collaborate with industry digital booking platforms – WebCargo, cargo.one, fine-tuned our e-services (schedule, track&trace, etc), extended our MobApp features, and developed advanced schedule updates through e-mail in auto mode with frequency and other settings adjusted upon customers’ needs. Alexey Zotov, Sales Director of AirBridgeCargo Airlines E.E: What estimations do you have for 2021? A.Z: We are optimistic about 2021, although it is still early to talk about full recovery, which is expected to be reached only by 2024. IATA is predicting more than 10% growth of cargo volumes which will align the demand with 2019. The world relies on air cargo operations which will be boosted by: E-com demand which keeps on growing given closure of brick & mortar shops, restrictions in some countries on shops’ working hours, and overall changes in buying behaviour as consumers shifted from offline to online shopping.Demand for high-tech goods will drive the growth not only through increase in sales of work & leisure devices but also semiconductors and lithium batteries, widely used in electronic goods and EVs.Lack of capacity due to slow passenger operations’ recovery.COVID-19 influence with resurgence of the epidemic in certain countries, this might foster local PPE demand.Vaccine distribution will stimulate high-quality cargo operations.Demand for vaccine-related cargo – injection syringes, vials, production equipment, others.