DALLAS — Canada has officially confiscated an Antonov An-124-100 aircraft and wants to use the money from its sale to help rebuild Ukraine.
The move was preceded by a legal prelude. In March 2022, just a few weeks after Russia began attacking Ukraine, a Ukrainian court ordered the confiscation of all Antonov An-124s of the Volga-Dnepr Group for evidence preservation and “further compensation.”
Aircraft manufacturer Antonov had also filed a lawsuit against the Russian cargo airline. The Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsiya had unlawfully granted a subsidiary of the group the right to issue airworthiness certificates for An-124s, Antonov argued, adding that the aviation authority had “jeopardized the safe operation of the aircraft, which is a blatant violation of international conventions.”
Antonov An-124 Operations
Despite the ruling, Volga-Dnepr does not have to worry about seven Antonov An-124s that are located in Russia and are therefore protected from legal action.
Six of them fly within Russia but have also flown to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates. One has been sitting around in Ulyanovsk for some time, according to Stephen Eiselin from aerotelegraph.com.
However, three more of the cargo airline’s An-124s – bearing registration numbers RA-82043, RA-82045, and RA-82046 – are parked at Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ). Volga-Dnepr operated a hub there. They cannot leave Germany because of airspace close to Russian aircraft.
There are a couple of An-124s flying around the world, and one is in Toronto.
New Sanctions Against Volga-Dnepr
A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100 was at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) at the start of the war and has been stranded there ever since. However, it remained the property of the Russian cargo airline.
Volga-Dnepr was unable to pick up the plane because the airspace is closed to it and it would first have to pay the parking fees, which have since added up to about half a million Canadian dollars.
The government in Ottawa made it clear that it intended to hand over the XL freighter RA-82078 to Ukraine prior to the actual confiscation of the type. The reason, it said, was new Canadian sanctions against Volga-Dnepr because the cargo airline supports the Russian government.
Reconstruction, Compensation of Victims
Since the conflict is still ongoing, the An-124 is not going to Ukraine any time soon. The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would manage the asset “in accordance with federal law.”
Should the asset ultimately go to the government of Ukraine, it said it will work out ways “to redistribute this asset to compensate the victims of human rights violations, restore international peace and security or rebuild Ukraine.”
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Featured image: Volga Dnepr RA-82078 Antonov An-124-100. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways