Ukrainian cargo airline Antonov Airlines is offering the AN-225 Mriya, the world’s largest cargo aircraft, for commercial operations. The stupendous aircraft is due to fill in the gaps for heavy-lift capacity, left after its rival Volga-Dnepr’s decision to temporarily ground the whole AN-124s fleet.

Antonov Airlines decided to bring the 250-tonne capacity AN-225 giant into operations as it observed a shortage of heavy-lift capacity in the market. Antonov Airlines, which also has 7 AN-124 freighters in its fleet, plans to put the 32-year-old Mriya to service starting from the middle of December 2020.

“There is a surge in demand for AN-124 aircraft at the present time and therefore Antonov Airlines is doing its best to help customers providing the required airlift capability,“ said Andriy Blagovisiy, the Commercial Director of Antonov Airlines, speaking to local media.

The Commercial Director of the airline noticed that the current limited availability of AN-124s in the market could allow the air carrier to attract customers and offer an additional lifting capacity in commercial cargo services.

Volga-Dnepr suspended the AN-124 freighter operations after the country’s Federal Agency of Air Transport opened an investigation on safety issues in response to an incident in November 2020.

A total of 12 of Volga-Dnepr’s AN-124 freighters were temporarily grounded after one of the planes suffered an uncontained engine fan disk failure and was forced to complete an emergency landing on November 13, 2020.

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Volga-Dnepr grounded its eight Antonov An-124 freighters after a serious engine incident that led to a crash landing.