Russia’s Volga-Dnepr has begun to fire its Boeing pilots as the cargo airline begins to move away from foreign-made aircraft.   

More than 200 pilots belonging to two subsidiaries of Volga-Dnepr, AirBridgeCargo and Atran, will be fired, with the first having already received their notices in late July 2022.  

The information was revealed by Russian news agency RBK, which referred to two independent anonymous sources within the company.  

Volga-Dnepr is on its way to removing all Western-made aircraft from its fleet and retaining only Antonov An-124s and Ilyushin Il-76s, the sources claim as reported by RBK.  

AirBridgeCargo used to operate 16 Boeing 747 freighters in addition to one Boeing 777, according to Planespotters.com data. Atran’s fleet consisted of nine Boeing 737 freighters.  

Nearly all Volga-Dnepr flights, as well as that of its subsidiaries, were international, leading to significant problems after sanctions were imposed on Russia following the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.  

AirBridgeCargo began returning its Boeing 747s to lessors in March 2022. According to RBK, most of the company’s aircraft will be returned in the coming months. The company will retain a skeleton crew of Boeing pilots in case a decision to return the rest of the aircraft to foreign leasing companies is made, RBK’s sources suggest.  

Volga-Dnepr currently operates three An-124 and four Il-76 heavy freighters. An additional nine An-124s have been grounded across the world due to ongoing lawsuits.  

There have been reports that the company is set to receive another restored An-124 by 2024.  

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