russian plane toronto

Giant Russian plane stranded at Toronto airport will be given to Ukraine

That massive Russian cargo plane that has spent almost 14 months grounded at Toronto-Pearson International Airport will be handed over to Ukraine by the Canadian government as part of a new round of sanctions against the increasingly-isolated Russian state.

The Antonov An-124, owned by Russian-flagged Volga-Dnepr Airlines, has been grounded in a storage area at Pearson since late February 2022, when the Canadian government banned Russian aircraft from operating in Canadian airspace in the wake of Vladimir Putin's bloody and horribly-botched invasion of Ukraine.

The plane has since racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in storage fees and become a destination for aviation geeks as it looms tall over the tarmac at Pearson, but it looks like the Russian airline will finally be on the move soon.

On a recent visit to Toronto, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhaland Canadian PM Justin Trudeau worked out a new aid package for the embattled nation, one that will include the massive cargo jet to, ironically, help aid Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression.

Shmyhal announced the planned aircraft transfer within a lengthy list of agreements and sanctions against Russia in a Facebook post on Sunday morning.

"A new package of sanctions against Russia from Canada. In particular, against Volga-Dnepr company. Preparing for the confiscation of the AN-124 plane and other assets of the aggressor in Canada and transfer them to the benefit of Ukraine," stated Shmyhal.

No date for the handover has been provided.

It's a worst-case scenario for Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which was sold off by its founder last August in an attempt to prevent exactly the type of government sanctions announced Sunday.

Sanctions have crippled Russian airlines and cargo operators since the onset of the conflict, and both Volga-Dnepr and its subsidiary AirBridgeCargo were forced to halt operations in Western democracies due to the cancellation of aircraft leases, triggering a wave of layoffs.

Russian air operators have similarly suffered a critical shortage of replacement parts, including complex avionics and electrical components that the pariah state lacks the industry to supply itself.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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