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Of three new European destinations to be added to American Airlines' network this year, probably the most attractive from a cargo standpoint is Moscow. Not only is the carrier fielding 777 aircraft on the sector (whereas Barcelona and Milan, the other two additions, will be served with 767-300s), but cargo traffic to the Russian capital is booming, driven by a voracious appetite for consumer goods and luxury items.
Frankfurt-based research and consulting firm Aviainform has seen "explosive growth" in airfreight volumes into Russia, an observation shared by airlines serving this market. "Inbound traffic to Russia has been very strong," says Ram Menen, senior vice president of cargo at Emirates Airlines.
Russian airlines have been on the expansion path. AirBridgeCargo, the scheduled freighter airline owned by Antonov AN-124 operator Volga-Dnepr Airlines, recently took delivery of its second 747-400 extended range freighter.
Last year, the carrier signed an order for five 747-8 freighters, with options for an additional five. The firm orders are scheduled for delivery between 2010 and 2013. Aeroflot, Russia's largest airline signaled plans to take between five and ten 777 freighters, although no further details have been released so far.
Forwarders are also sensing opportunities. Last year Connecticut-based IJS Global established an alliance with Delivery World, which is headquartered in Moscow. Giorgio Laccona, chief executive of IJS, sees strong demand for a range of commodities from oilfield equipment to consumer items.
For much of the airfreight-shipping world, the moves add up to a changing view of Russia and the former Eastern European countries.
Source: Air Cargo World, http://www.aircargoworld.com
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