TORONTO, ONTARIO — A giant An-124 Ruslan cargo plane has been stranded at Toronto's Pearson International Airport for over a year, after being grounded when Canada closed its airspace to Russian-operated aircraft on February 27, 2022. 

This occurred just four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, and the same day the plane landed with a shipment of Covid-19 rapid tests. Following a meeting between Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on April 11, 2023, Canada plans to seize the aircraft and hand it over to Ukraine based on a Ukrainian court ruling that found the air-worthiness certification for all twelve of Volga Dnepr's An-124s to be illegal.

The Ukrainian state-owned company Antonov Airlines, which designed the An-124, is expected to receive the plane. Russia will still be responsible for over $330,000 USD in parking fees incurred during the plane's impoundment. The An-124, known as the Condor by NATO, is the world's largest operational aircraft, capable of carrying 150 tons of cargo and 50 tons of fuel.

Antonov Airlines has a fleet of five An-124-100s based in Leipzig, Germany, and anticipates the aircraft will fly up to 385 more missions. The An-124s have been renamed after Ukrainian cities that witnessed heavy fighting in the war. Three more Volga-Dnepr An-124s are impounded in Leipzig, with Germany's plans for these aircraft remaining uncertain. Ukraine was previously the sole proprietor of the world's largest aircraft, the An-225 Mriya, which was destroyed during the battle of Hostomel Airport last year.