March 16 - Ruslan International - the company which markets and manages the combined Antonov An-124 fleets of its shareholders Volga Dnepr and Antonov Airlines - has reported its provisional performance for 2011.

During the past year, the UK-based company arranged 712 contracts for individual or multiple flights (up 21.5 percent on 2010), with the 17 aircraft under its management flying a total of 9720 hours (up 13 percent on 2010).

Ruslan International's estimated overall revenue for 2011 was up 28 percent, compared to its 2010 audited accounts, but the provisional 2011 figures also reveal an increase of 23.5 percent in operating costs, of which fuel was the largest element accounting for 34 percent of the total (up 6 percent compared to the final accounts for 2010). The company is estimating a multi-million Pound sterling pre-tax profit for 2011, compared to a marginal loss in the previous year.

Analysis of Ruslan International's operations for 2011 reveals that its customer base remained broad, while the range of cargo narrowed. The company attributes this to rising fuel costs widening the gap between the cost of the An-124and more conventional shipping methods; the imposition of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) - unlikely to be echoed by similar taxation on shipping in theforeseeable future - is set to exacerbate this situation.

At the same time, the downturn in global cargo levels and increase in passenger numbers - especially in the Middle East and Asia - kept general cargo rates relatively low. This meant that the An-124 increasingly reverted to carrying the heavy- and outsized- cargoes for which it was designed, rather than the general cargo often carried in previous years. 

Additionally, rationalised aircraft utilisation resulting from Ruslan International's management of the combined fleets ofAntonov and Volga Dnepr aircraft reduced the amount of empty flying, and the need to fill empty legs with marginally-rated general cargo. This increased yields, and also reduced chartering costs for Ruslan International's customers.

Says Ruslan International vice president Valery Kulbaka: "The provisional results for 2011 reveal a number of interesting points when compared to theErnst and Young figures from 2010. The 2011 performance was much stronger than projected, largely as a result of the withdrawal of some NATO forces from Afghanistan, and also the Tsunami in Japan - in the aftermath of which Ruslan International was able to provide significant assistance. Looking forward, and despite the current uncertainty in many world markets, there is no reason to believe that 2012 will be less than positive for us and our shareholders."

He continues: "It is very clear, six years after the launch of Ruslan International, that it has been extremely effective in rationalising the capacity and utilisation of its shareholders' aircraft. This has frequently improved response times because operating the two fleets under one management means we are more likely to have an available aircraft near to where it is needed. We have also been able to pass back efficiency savings to ourcustomers." 

Kulbaka concludes: "The fact that we are based in London improves international communications with our key markets. And, as our company is incorporated in the UK, audited by one of the world's largest and most reputable accountancy firms, and subject to stringent UK company laws, it provides an added measure of assurance for our customers."