Volga Dnepr Group’s (VDG) scheduled cargo airline, AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), and its affiliate, Atran, on Sunday ceased operations at Liege Airport (LGG) in Belgium, which serves as the former’s European hub as a consequence of the ban imposed by European countries on Russian carriers.

In the past three days, the EU and UK ban on Russian aircraft in their airspace has forced ABC to remove all its aircraft from Europe. With the ban in place, at least four ABC aircrafts have exited the EU airspace.

Now, it remains to be seen what volumes the all-cargo airline can carry in its new restricted world.

ABC has 15 747Fs, and one 777F in its fleet, a large amount of capacity, particularly given the current marketplace. The aircraft are either currently in Russia or operating to destinations in Asia, primarily China, but Asia-Europe is its key operating region.

Not pleasingly, air cargo shippers on Asia to Europe lanes should expect a spike in prices as a substantial amount of capacity has come out of the market.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines’ aircraft have also left the EU, with one AN-124 initially destined to arrive in Marseille on Sunday, diverted to Tunis.

EU airlines associated with Volga-Dnepr – Cargologicair in the UK and Cargologic in Germany – continue to operate normally, and all aircraft are currently in the EU or UK.

Vogla-Dnepr Group customers have started to feel the impacts strongly and rushing to find new capacity, and so are its European staff.

Meanwhile, the US is also considering a ban on Russian airlines but has not yet implemented it. ABC had two aircraft in the US over the weekend – both have now departed.

Finnair Cargo has also cut all its operations to east Asia, reducing capacity again. The airline is quoted to have said that it will not operate to Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai or Guangzhou, with a review of the situation to take place this weekend.

The carrier, which said it was withdrawing its earnings guidance as a result, added that it was “considering different solutions in case the situation prolongs”.

Scandinavian air cargo carrier SAS said it is continuing to operate routes to Tokyo and China, but is also “closely monitoring the situation”.

Rail on Asia-Europe is also likely to be affected, reducing capacity even further. Flexport was among the first forwarders to stop taking bookings on the overland service, but others are likely to follow as economic sanctions, and the Swift payment ban, begin to hit.

UK forwarder association BIFA has advised forwarders to make sure they are aware of the routing of cargo and to check with insurers on their liability, “as cover may be withdrawn and/or premiums increased for goods being shipped to/from Russia for example”.


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