Rail has long been the primary mode for moving cargo between Russia and the Far East. The Trans-Siberian Railway, known to passengers for its mythic journeys spanning seven-time zones across snow-swept terrain, was originally built in the late 19th century as a freight transport link to Russia's Asian provinces.
But in the early stages of the 21st century, both Russian airlines and European carriers and forwarders are increasingly interested in using Russia's vast air space to move cargo between Western Europe and the Far East, with Russian airports serving as hubs for international air cargo operations.
For all the talk about Russia's hopeful trading future and the immeasurable resources and needs that could fuel freight transport across the country, it appears that the air cargo industry has settled on the one commodity Russia has in huge abundance: the enormous air space that sits between Europe and Asia.
For example, Volga-Dnepr's Air Bridge Cargo--a new scheduled service all-cargo carrier planning to launch operations in April--aims to link Asia and Europe via Russia.
"We feel our new airline has a tremendous future in serving not only the Russian market but also in bridging the continents of Asia and Europe through Russia," says Stan Wraight, ABC's executive director.
"The inclusion of the word 'Bridge' in the name reflects the concept of developing Russia as a bridge between Asia and Europe," adds Volga-Dnepr Group President Alexey Isaikin.
However, air cargo officials from around …