Volga-Dnepr snaps up Atran-Aviatrans

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Volga-Dnepr Group has acquired Moscow Domodedovo-based freight operator Atran-Aviatrans Cargo Airlines as part of a strategy to broaden the range of services it offers.

Atran operates a fleet of three Antonov An-12 freighters on charter and scheduled services from Moscow to Leipzig and Luxembourg.

It will become part of Volga-Dnepr's regional cargo operation, tentatively dubbed "Small Cargo Aviation" by its founder and president Alexei Isaikin.

He declined to reveal how much has been invested in the operation, because work on defining its business model is not yet completed.

"Alongside express delivery, the new division will carry out general cargo and charter services," said Isaikin.

"Our goal is to create an operator with a route network covering former Soviet states and comparable with FedEx and UPS in terms of the scope of activities."

Isaikin added: "We plan to equip it with up to 10 converted 737 freighters initially. We'll discuss further fleet development options with airframers to find the best proposal."

Volga-Dnepr is already evaluating the An-178, the cargo variant of the baseline An-148 with a stretched fuselage to be developed to its specification by Antonov.

The new operation will complement Volga-Dnepr's core outsize cargo transport business, operated with Antonov An-124 freighters and scheduled Boeing 747 services provided by AirBridge Cargo.