An An-124-100 freighter belonging to Russian cargo specialist Volga-Dnepr Airlines (VI, Ulyanovsk Vostochny), carrying Covid-19 testing kits previously ordered from China by the Canadian government, has been seized at Toronto Pearson Airport amid international sanctions against Russia imposed after its invasion of Ukraine.

RA-82078 (msn 9773054559153) was detained on February 28 after the European Union and Canada - but before the United States - initiated airspace flight bans paralysing the movement of aircraft operated by Russian airlines carrying passengers or cargo.

The Antonov Design Bureau freighter, which had landed at Toronto the previous day via a refuelling stop at Anchorage Ted Stevens, is now stored there, the ch-aviation fleets module shows, and it will remain there for the foreseeable future, according to Omar Alghabra, Canada’s minister of transport.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines, whose subsidiaries include AirBridgeCargo, Atran, and London Stansted-based CargoLogicAir, operates eleven An-124s, three of which are currently active, among its all-owned fleet of sixteen aircraft.

The carrier said in an emailed statement to The Globe and Mail newspaper that it was working towards the “settlement of all formalities to be able to fly to its home base. Volga-Dnepr Airlines operated a series of charters in the interests of the Canadian government delivering vital Covid-19-related products from China.”

Distinctive for its nose-loading cargo bay, the An-124 “Ruslan” entered service in 1986 and fewer than 60 were ever made. Less than half are still in use. Antonov Design Bureau is a state-owned Ukrainian manufacturer. The Ruslan is the second-heaviest freighter in the world after the majestic An-225 “Mriya”. The world’s only An-225 was destroyed in a Russian airstrike on Gostomel airport in the first days of the invasion.