Volga-Dnepr threatens legal action over Antonov An-124 given to Ukraine

Volga-Dnepr Airlines is attempting to recover the Antonov An-124 stuck at YYZ
Greg finnegan / Shutterstock.com

Volga-Dnepr Airlines, a Russia-based cargo airline, has initiated legal proceedings to recover its Antonov An-124 which was confiscated by the Canadian Government.

The aircraft, registered as RA-82078, landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) on February 27, 2022, three days after Russia invaded Ukraine. Due to sanctions imposed on Russia, the aircraft has been unable to leave YYZ ever since.

“Remember that the airline was operating a humanitarian flight commissioned by the Government of Canada with 475 cubic meters/60,900 kg of COVID-19 test kits from China,” Volga-Dnepr Airlines said, adding that the aircraft was prevented from leaving Canadian airspace “due to the spread of a newly issued NOTAM prohibiting Russian airlines from using Canadian airspace”.

As such, the carrier has now sent “an official notice informing Canada of the existence of a dispute between the company and the country in connection with the illegal seizure of the An-124-100 cargo aircraft, and also invites the country’s authorities to resolve the dispute amicably in accordance with Article 9 of the agreement between the USSR and Canada on the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments, November 20, 1989”.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines said that if both sides fail to resolve “the dispute” within six months, it will “formally initiate arbitration”. However, it emphasized that “Volga-Dnepr remains open to negotiations with Canadian representatives to resolve the issue and return the aircraft”.

In April 2023, Denys Shmyhal, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, announced that he and his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, agreed the aircraft would be given over to Ukraine.

The Canadian government officially seized the aircraft in June 2023, with Melanie Joly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, saying that the country was “sending a clear message to the Russian regime that there will be nowhere left to hide for those who support and profit from the Kremlin’s war of aggression”.

“Canada has been there to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom since day one and we will continue to be there through their victory to aid in their reconstruction efforts,” Joly added.

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