Russian plane stranded in Canada racks up $100,000 airport parking fee

Giant cargo plane has been stuck since February

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 08 June 2022 10:51 BST
<p>An Antonov AN-124</p>

An Antonov AN-124

Airport parking fees can often feel steep, But one aircraft’s current bill might make even the most hardened traveller’s eyes water.

A massive cargo plane stuck at a Canadian airport has currently racked up parking fees of more than C$100,000 (£64,000).

The Antonov AN-124 jet, owned by Volga-Dneper and registered as RA-82078, has been stranded at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport since 27 February.

In a case of “wrong place, wrong time”, the aircraft happened to be at the airport after delivering a shipment of rapid Covid tests when Canada introduced a ban on all Russian-owned or registered planes using its airspace.

It meant the plane was prohibited from taking off again, as that would involve automatically passing through Canadian airspace.

Since then, the jet has been issued a parking fine of $C1065.60 (£678) each day. It has now been stuck for around 100 days.

“The aircraft is unable to depart in Canadian territorial airspace as it would be in violation of the NOTAM [Notice to Airmen],” a Transport Canada spokesperson told CBC.

“The latter remains in place, and there are no plans to make revisions or change it at this time.”

Widespread airspace bans of Russian aircraft were introduced following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia retaliated by banning other nations’ planes in response, leading to some unusual flight paths.

Having temporarily pressed pause on its Tokyo-Helsinki route during the conflict, Finnair resumed the link on 9 March - but flights became four hours longer to avoid Russian airspace.

Forced to fly either north or south of Russia, depending on wind, the flight now takes around 13 hours.

“Japan is one of our most important markets, and we want to continue offering safe and reliable connections between Helsinki and Tokyo,” said Finnair’s chief commercial officer, Ole Orvér, of the decision to create a new flight path.

“Japan is also an important cargo market, and air connections are needed to keep cargo moving.”

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