Volga-Dnepr seeks up to 10 737 freighters for new carrier

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Russia's Volga-Dnepr Group is aiming to acquire up to 10 converted Boeing 737 freighters to equip a proposed regional cargo carrier.

Speaking at a civil aviation forum in Ulyanovsk last week, the group's management revealed plans to set up a new subsidiary before next year.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines executive president Valery Gabriel says: "It will provide cargo services on domestic and international routes with a range of up to 1,500 km [932mi]. There is a considerable demand in this niche."

The planned operation is intended to complement Volga-Dnepr's scheduled arm AirBridge Cargo, which serves routes between Europe and Asia with a dozen Boeing 747 freighters.

AirBridge Cargo chief Tatyana Arslanova suggests the new operator could also provide feeder services to the third parties.

"Under the plan, we'll initially take seven to 10 converted 737s through a combination of leases and direct purchases using our own funds," says Gabriel.

The carrier will have a separate legal identity and air operator's certificate. Gabriel expects the first three aircraft to arrive by the end of this year and sees a potential for increasing its fleet up to 25 freighters.