Fear of a future lack of heavylift air capacity has led a leading project cargo forwarder to call for the Russian and Ukrainian governments to build more of the massive AN-124 freighters.
Jawad Kamel, founder and CEO of Istanbul-based project forwarder Advance International Transport, said: "I call on the governments of Russia and Ukraine to develop a new production cycle for a new aircraft."
"The economies of scale might be difficult, especially for aircraft with such low volume production as heavy lift maindeck capacity."
"However, without this investment in time and money now, in less than two decades we could see the heavy lift air freight sector grounded."
Production of the AN-124, which took place in Kiev and the Russian city of Ulyanovsk, was discontinued after the break-up of the Soviet Union, but new models of the aircraft are on the drawing board and recently Russian resident Dimitry Medvedev publically supported plans to resume production.
Kamal added: "Since the AN-124 burst on the western freight market in the early 1990s, we have come to rely completely on its gigantic capacity."
"My company, alone, handled and chartered more than 100 AN-124 and AN-225 flights in a three month peak period after the end of war in Iraq."
"A replacement for the AN-124 will be required by 2025 or serious maindeck capacity beyond the B747F or any Airbus freighter capacity will vanish. Items which fly now will no longer be flown."
He said that heavylift air forwarders also increasingly faced pressure from the maritime sector, which has seen project cargo shipping lines invest millions in fleet development and ports in handling facilities.
"The sea option is not one to be ignored. Air supporters will say that this means journeys that take hours by air will take weeks by sea. But I wonder how important the speed air offers really is to our clients?"
"As long as we educate our clients about the slower surface speeds at sea, then most will able to factor in the longer lead time to their building schedules."