Drawing on its own experience, Antonov Airlines takes a look at what to expect in the air freight market in 2020

Overall Antonov Airlines’ outlook for 2020 is a cautious one, with industry growth more in line with 2019 than in previous years. The start of 2020 has so far been softer compared to the previous year.

The cargo market in 2019 was slow, especially compared to 2018, and although the peak season did not materialise significantly, Q4 was nevertheless stronger compared to Q3.

There has been slow demand from the oil & gas and humanitarian sectors in particular, though the business did see some projects completed in these sectors during 2020, and there will always be demand for the rapid response to emergency situations in which it specialises.

In 2019, the aerospace sector was Antonov Airlines’ best performing area, and this is expected to continue to grow in 2020 as digital communications continue to expand in developing countries such as India, while Europe and the US upgrade their current capabilities in line with technological advancements.

Changing customer requirements for unique solutions
Bolt-on-services are becoming more of a regular part of the package that Antonov Airlines’ customers demand, from logistics service providers and airlines. They are now looking for more transparent, comprehensive and cost-efficient solutions, all while minimising any risks.

As an example of the additio al services our customers are comnow requiring, the organisation provided door-to-door delivery of two 57-tonne, 21-metre-long drying drums, from a factory in the UK to Yara Pilbara Nitrate’s north Australian mining facility at the end of last year.

For the project, the airline employed eight subcontractors to arrange road transportation from the vendor, cranes for loading and unloading, and delivery to the final destination in Pilbara.

In addition, it provided documentation preparation, and processing to complete the delivery door-to-door, a service thatis more frequently offered by logistics service providers ratherthan carriers.

For project and heavy lift, a door-to-door service requires a skillset that combines both commercial and technical expertise as well as regional knowledge and networks. To receive the necessary road transportation permissions, Antonov Airlines’ team was able to execute the project seamlessly thanks to a solid experience in securing flight permits.

Engineering expertise
Every project requires careful planning and preparation for all its phases, from pick-up to drop off. Engineering solutions are required every step of the way, due to the unique dimensions, weight and weight distribution of the cargo that Antonov

Airlines transports.
The business has a dedicated team of engineers that develops special transportation frames/packaging, as well as loading equipment, which allow for even load distribution, secure cargo lashing, safe loading, air transportation and unloading of heavy weight and outsize cargo.

This equipment includes custom lashing frameworks and support structures within the aircraft that protect the integrity of cargo while distributing the weight evenly, ensuring the aircraft flies smoothly and safely.

It has also produced a unique low-profile loading ramp with a height of only 0.08m, making it the lowest equipment in the An-124 airlift market. This equipment increases the capability of Antonov Airlines’ fleet of An-124s to transport cargo that is both longer and higher than previously carried.

The airline specialises in aerospace logistics, and during satellite transports, the sensitive high-tech cargo can be electronically monitored to provide data on temperature, pressure and humidity. This allows adjustments to be made during flight, take-off, and landing to protect the satellite from fluctuations in climactic conditions allowing it to be calibrated in preparation for launch.

As advances are made in metallurgy, and new materials which are lighter and stronger are developed, the airline upgrades its support equipment to improve services and cost effectiveness for customers.

Upgrade programme
Furthermore, the business has a regular service and upgrade programme to ensure that it provides the safest and most advanced aircraft for its fleet. The An-22A Antei returned into service after fitting and calibration of new propellers at the end of last year. The propellers have given the aircraft an additional 500 hours of flight time, so this unique aircraft can provide tailor-made solutions for short-range, heavy, and outsize cargo shipments.

This year will also see the return of the world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Antonov Airlines An-225 Mriya, after upgrades to the flight and navigation avionics and engine remote control system are complete.

Antonov Airlines delivers air cargo solutions across the aerospace, defence, energy, humanitarian, industrial, automotive, and oil and gas sectors.