DALLAS — Volga-Dnepr Airlines (VI) has sued the Canadian government, asking a federal court to declare invalid Canada’s sanctions against the Russian airline in April and seize its Antonov An-124 a month later.
The Russian cargo plane has been stuck in Toronto since February 2022, when Canada closed its airspace to Russian planes. The court battle will determine the fate of the An-124.
According to the Wall Street Journal, VI argues in its lawsuit that it was wrongly put on the sanctions list because it was not involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and did not provide any aviation service to the Russian paramilitary organization, Wagner Group.
The plane, one of only 26 in the world, has been parked on the tarmac at Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) since it arrived from China. It was originally delivering personal protective equipment but was unable to take off again due to the airspace closure. The plane has been exposed to the elements and has not received any maintenance since then; hence the lawsuit.
The Western bans on Russian aircraft have limited the use of the Antonov An-124 planes. There are only six of these aircraft flying in the West, with five from Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines (ADB) and one from the United Arab Emirates-based Maximus Air (6M).
Featured image: Volga Dnepr Airlines Antonov An-124-100. Photo: Miles Aronovitz/Airways