The Canadian government decided to pass on a seized An-124 Ruslan freighter to Ukraine on February 27, 2022, days after the Russian military invasion.
The aircraft, registered RA-82078, belongs to the cargo company Volga-Dnepr, one of the largest operators of the Antonov jet, which can transport 150 tonnes of cargo.
The sending of the seized plane to Ukraine was revealed by the country’s Prime Minister, Denis Shmyhal. “A new package of sanctions against Russia from Canada. In particular, against the Volga-Dnepr company. We are in anticipation of confiscating the An-124 aircraft and other assets of the aggressor in Canada and transferring them to Ukraine,” Shmyhal said.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the fleet of active An-124s has been reduced due to seized aircraft and Antonov Airlines’ difficulties in operating outside Ukraine – the company transferred its headquarters to Cologne, Germany.
Volga-Dnepr was one of Russia’s most internationalized airlines, with two subsidiaries operating western aircraft, AirBridgeCargo and Atran.
The two companies ceased operations due to the inability to fly the Boeing 737 and 747 freighters.
Owner of 11 An-124, Volga-Dnepr only has one aircraft in service, according to Planespotters. AirBridgeCargo should return to operating with Ilyushin Il-96-400T widebodies converted to cargo, according to images that were posted last week on Russian social media.