Canadian government to seize stranded An-124

The Government of Canada has announced its plans to seize a Russian-registered Antonov An-124 that’s been grounded at Toronto Pearson International Airport since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

Authorities say that the giant cargo aircraft, RA-82078 (c/n 9773054559153), is believed to be owned by a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Airlines LLC and Volga-Dnepr Group, two entities against which Canada recently imposed sanctions.

The 26-year-old quadjet has been on the ground at the Canadian hub since February 27, 2022.

The seizure of the asset is made possible by the new asset seizure and forfeiture authorities under Canada’s autonomous sanctions regimes put forward in Budget 2022 and is in direct response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24 last year.

The An-124 in question (not pictured) is one of 11 owned by Volga-Dnepr Group.
The An-124 in question (not pictured) is one of 11 owned by Volga-Dnepr Group. Aviation Image Network/Wizzard

The government says the seizure is designed to put “additional pressure on Russia to stop its illegal war against Ukraine” by straining its economic system and limiting resources that fuel the war.

This is the first physical asset seized by the Government of Canada under this regime, and second overall seized and restrained under the Special Economic Measures Act.

Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “Today, Canada is 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.”

The government says it will seize the asset and manage it in accordance with federal legislation and should it ultimately be forfeited, Canada will work with the Government of Ukraine on options to redistribute this asset to “compensate victims of human rights abuses, restore international peace and security, or rebuild Ukraine”.

Volga-Dnepr Group owns 11 An-124s – only one of which is currently operational, flight tracking data shows.