The 21 An-124 heavy airlifters owned by the Russian Air Force are now available for sale to commercial operators, according to unconfirmed media reports in Russia. The Russian Air Force grounded the aircraft in December 2005, and their technical condition is uncertain. If they are for sale, they are certain to attract interest from the four current commercial operators of the An-124.
They’re big. They’re in demand. But they’re getting old, and availability is becoming a problem. That’s why Volga-Dnepr Airlines (VDA) has been pushing so hard for more An-124 Ruslan heavylift freighters to be built. But despite the aircraft’s commercial success since the end of the Cold War, it’s not clear whether renewed production is a priority for Russia’s newly formed, state-owned United Aircraft Co. (OAK).