Air cargo carrier starts new route to Asia after Russia stop

Stian Olsen

Russian air carrier AirBridgeCargo has found an alternative route to fly salmon from Norway to Asia. 

It was on Wednesday last week that two aircrafts carrying between 80 and 100 tonnes of salmon each were denied transit to Asia at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. The aircrafts belonged to Aeroflot and AirBridgeCargo (ABC).

SalmonBusiness, which first covered the case, spoke to several exporters, who did not know the reason why the fish was refused transit and returned to Oslo Airport Gardermoen.

Waiting unchanged situation
In an internal letter from ABC to the customers, which SalmonBusiness has access to, ABC explained what happened when the planes were stopped.

In the letter, ABC wrote that the customs agency at Sheremetyevo International Airport stopped the salmon because of an existing ban on importing fresh salmon from Europe to Russia. According to ABC, this ban did not impact on any transit shipments in the past.

Still, the decision to stop the fish was made, and not reversed, according to ABC.

“Thus, we expect that Sheremetyevo Customs will maintain this position and will not allow anymore the transit of fresh salmon through Russia,” the letter stated.

SalmonBusiness has repeatedly tried to get a comment from AirBridgeCargo sales manager Hans Wiberg without getting a response.

Flying through Kazakhstan
ABC further wrote that they are still looking for opportunities to transport fresh salmon via Russia by trying to change the decision by Russian customs authorities.

According to ABC, it is still legal to fly over Russia, so the company has found an alternative route, which means that they do not have to land on Russian territory. The company previously had two departures to Russia from Oslo on Tuesdays, and one departure on Friday.

According to Morten Würgler, head of air freight in Schenker, there is now one freighter from ABC on a new route via Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Here the aircraft stops to refuel before continuing to Seoul, South Korea.

Cargo stays on board the plane, which remains cooled.

“The route has received some lukewarm reception in the market from the exporters, but often you want to see that new solutions work before sending more 100 tonnes of departures. Personally, however, I believe that this will be a good solution for the South Korean market, which is the largest single destination for Norwegian salmon in Asia,” Würgler wrote in an e-mail to SalmonBusiness.

SalmonBusiness has also contacted the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries in connection with the case.

“There is no new information yet. We are following up the matter with Russian authorities via the Norwegian embassy in Moscow,” the ministry wrote in an email to SalmonBusiness on Monday.


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