Canada will transfer confiscated Antonov An-124 from Volga-Dnepr to Ukraine

Canada will give Ukraine an Antonov An-124 from Volga-Dnepr Airlines that has been stuck at YYZ
Peter Bueno /

The Canadian government will confiscate and transfer an Antonov An-124, nicknamed the Ruslan, to Ukraine in a fresh package of sanctions. 

According to an announcement from Denys Shmyhal, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, the decision was made following a meeting with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Christie Freeland. 

Shmyhal has been on a visit to North America, including the United States (US) and Canada, since April 11, 2023, meeting with the Canadian Ministers on the same day. 

The confiscation is part of fresh sanctions that were introduced by the Canadian government on April 5, 2023. The sanctions also target Volga-Dnepr Group and its two subsidiaries, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, and ATRAN, another Russian cargo airline whose parent company is Volga-Dnepr Group. 

Currently, a Volga-Dnepr Group Antonov An-124 is stuck at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), registered as RA-82078, according to data, where it has been since February 27, 2022, when it arrived on a flight from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Alaska, US. 

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, which resulted in heavy international sanctions being imposed on the country’s aviation sector. These sanctions have prevented Russian-registered and associated aircraft from utilizing Canadian, US and European airspace, as well as a number of other countries. 

Overall, Volga-Dnepr Group, whose subsidiary Volga-Dnepr Airlines operates 10 Antonov An-124s, has four aircraft of the type stuck at international airports. Excluding the one currently at YYZ, three Ruslans are stuck at Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ), Germany. 

Previously, a US judge ruled against AirBridgeCargo in a case where aircraft lessor BOC Aviation was seeking compensation for lease defaults on three Boeing 747-8F aircraft. Lewis J. Liman, a US District court judge from the Southern District of New York, found in favor of BOC Aviation, awarding the lessor $406.2 million. 

While BOC Aviation managed to recover one 747-8F, two are currently parked in Russia at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO).

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