April 2 - Volga-Dnepr Group, parent of heavy airfreight specialist Volga-Dnepr Airlines and scheduled air cargo operator AirBridgeCargo Airlines, said the carriers' combined traffic increased seven percent year-on-year in 2009 to 1.85 billion FTKs, which

However, revenue for the year lowered 15 percent to USD1.25 billion as global cargo yields took a major hit. The Moscow-based company pointed out that its traffic and revenue results compared "favourably" in an air cargo industry that had a historically negative year with the overall industry average of a 23 percent downturn in airlines' sales figures.

Volga-Dnepr Group says it was able to realise new opportunities and fulfill its growth strategy for both its scheduled cargo services between Europe and Asia using Boeing 747 freighters and in the field of global chartered cargo services with AN-124-100 Ruslan and IL-76 ramp aircraft for the transportation of outsized and heavyweight air cargo.

AirBridgeCargo Airlines, the Group's scheduled air cargo services operation, grew freight traffic 20 percent to 158,800 tonnes thanks to a 16.2 percent increase in its average payloads. In 2009, the airline substantially expanded its route network, connecting destinations in Europe and Asia through its new air cargo hub at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

In the field of air charter operations, Volga-Dnepr Airlines continued to demonstrate the high worldwide demand for its air logistics services with Russian-built AN-124 and IL-76 ramp freighters, especially in the US and European markets. Freight traffic onboard its AN-124 aircraft fleet was maintained at the record level achieved in 2008, totaling 69,655 tonnes. The stable performance of the AN-124 business during a year of unprecedented global economic crisis reinforces the Russian government's decision to support the production of an upgraded version of the freighter, the AN-124-100M.

The company says that the business performance of Volga-Dnepr Airlines' new IL-76TD-90VD freighters continued to exceed forecasts, with freight traffic growing by 12 percent in 2009. Volga-Dnepr Airlines will add a third new generation IL-76TD-90VD to its fleet in 2010 to satisfy growing customer demand for its unique operating capability.