Last week we reported rumors that Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Group was looking to acquire more An-124s for its outsize and heavyweight subsidiary carrier Volga-Dnepr Airlines. Today we can confirm the rumors: Volga-Dnepr Group has signed a finance lease agreement with JSC Sberbank Leasing to acquire two An-124-100 Ruslan freighters.
As our European editor Alex Lennane speculated last week, the two newly acquired freighters are units formerly operated by Russia-based Polet, which was forced to file for bankruptcy last year and finally lost its legal battle to hang on to its two An-124s.
This increases Volga-Dnepr’s An-124 fleet to twelve units, and leaves it as almost the only Russian An-124 operator. We say “almost” because state-owned 224 Flight Unit does have several An-124s in commercial configuration. However it is not a big player in the commercial market – a market now dominated by just two operators: Volga-Dnepr and Ukraine-based Antonov Airlines. And since those two market their services jointly (through their Ruslan International jv), the only real competition comes from UAE-based Maximus, with its single An-124.
And now, to give you something to do over the weekend, here are a few photos and videos of the Volga-Dnepr An-124s
We’ve posted this video before, but it’s a good one, showing the technical side of “how they get that huge stuff in there.”
And a nice one of a tough landing
And a shot of what makes the An-124 so special
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