The Canadian government has grounded a Russian cargo aircraft after the plane delivered a load of COVID-19 tests—for the Canadian government. The Volga Dnepr An-124, now the largest civilian cargo plane in operation, arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Feb. 27 on one of a series of charter flights for the Canadian government’s pandemic response effort. The aircraft was in the air when Canada banned Russian aircraft from its airspace and on Feb. 28 the massive aircraft was grounded indefinitely. Volga Dnepr is crying foul and wants its airplane back.
The company told the Globe and Mail that it is working toward the “settlement of all formalities to be able to fly to its home base. Volga-Dnepr Airlines operated a series of charters in the interests of the Canadian government delivering vital Covid-19-related products from China.” The airline owns 11 An-124s but the one now “in storage” in Toronto is one of only three that are flying, according to ch-aviation.com. The An-124 claimed the title of world’s largest cargo plane when its cousin the An-225 was destroyed during fighting in Ukraine in late February.