Volga-Dnepr funds An-124 work as 747 plan put back

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Volga-Dnepr has resumed funding the completion of an Antonov An-124-100M Ruslan at the Aviastar factory in Ulynovsk, Russia, as its planned Boeing 747 Freighter operations are delayed until the middle of next year (Flight International, 18-24 February).

Last year the Russian carrier secured $29.9 million from the World Bank's international finance division to fund completion of the half-finished airframe, its tenth An-124. A_dispute over ownership of the airframe delayed work, but Volga-Dnepr chief executive Aleksei Isaikin says that $24 million has now been handed over to Aviastar 'to get work into full gear and purchase missing avionics and engines'. The airframe should be completed by February next year.

Meanwhile, Volga-Dnepr will start its long-planned general cargo business in the middle of next year, receiving two 747-200Fs in April and May. The secondhand aircraft will be bought rather than leased from Boeing, as originally planned, and will connect Luxembourg to Beijing and Shanghai in China four times a week. Volga-Dnepr hopes its general cargo operations will generate $5 billion revenue over the next 10 years, and it plans a fleet of 11 747s, four Ilyushin Il-96s and nine Tupolev Tu-204Cs by 2013. The first Aviadvigatel PS-90A-powered Tu-204C freighter will be leased next year from a Russian airline, while the remainder are likely to be bought new from Aviastar.

Volga-Dnepr is also funding the effort to re-engine Ilyushin Il-76s with PS-90A-76s at the VASO plant in Voronezh, Russia, where the first two airframes are being completed.