Volga-Dnepr sues Canadian government over AN-12 seizure

Photo: Freedomz/ Shutterstock

Volga-Dnepr Airlines has filed a lawsuit against the Canadian government over the seizure of one of its Antonov AN-124 freighter aircraft.

The move is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Russian airline after its AN-124 was stranded at Toronto Pearson Airport last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent war between the two countries.

The aircraft was this year seized by the Canadian government as part of sanctions taken against Russia.

Now, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, owned by Moscow-headquartered Volga-Dnepr Group, has asked a federal court to declare that the Canadian government’s sanctions are invalid, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

In its lawsuit, Volga-Dnepr said it should not be included in the sanctions as it did not play a role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or assist Russian private military organisation, Wagner Group.

The AN-124, registered as RA-82078, has been grounded at Toronto Pearson Airport since February 27 last year, and is “suffering from exposure to the elements and receiving no maintenance whatsoever,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit follows a letter from Volga-Dnepr to the Canadian government in August that reportedly threatened legal action over the aircraft dispute.

Two months earlier, the Canadian government ordered the seizure of the AN-124, which had arrived at Toronto Pearson shortly before the government of Canada announced restrictions on Russian aircraft in response to the war.

In June 2022, the Canadian government amended the Special Economic Measures Act and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act to allow it to seize and re-distribute assets belonging to sanctioned entities and individuals.

The 26-year-old aircraft could be handed over to Ukraine.

According to Planespotters.net, Volga-Dnepr currently has three An-124 aircraft in operation and a further seven parked. 

However, the aircraft are only carrying out limited operations due to restrictions on airspace imposed by sanctions by various governments worldwide.

Five An-124s are currently being operated by Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines and one AN-124 is being operated by Maximus Air, based in the UAE.

In addition to Volga-Dnepr Airlines, Volga-Dnepr Group owns AirBridgeCargo and Atran Airlines, but fleets at both airlines are currently inactive.

The Volga-Dnepr Group decided to suspend operations at both airlines in March 2022.

Volga-Dnepr threatens legal action over seized AN-124

Canada set to seize Volga-Dnepr AN-124


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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]