Two large airplanes parked on the tarmac at night.

EIA setting records with cargo charter flights

Published On
June 1, 2020
Two of the three Antonov AN-124 planes expected at EIA arrived late on Friday, May 29. (Credit to Edmonton International Airport)

Multiple flights, three Antonov
AN-124 planes handled in one day

May 30, 2020 (Edmonton, AB) – Edmonton International Airport is a hub of activity this weekend with the arrival of multiple cargo-related charter flights, helping set new records for this service and providing needed revenue.

Cargo charter flights are unique flights that are contracted specifically for dedicated cargo, beyond what would normally be transported in the underside of regular passenger flights or scheduled freighter services. With the substantially reduced flight schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cargo charters continue enabling the movement of critical goods. In the first quarter of 2020, total cargo volumes at EIA were up seven per cent compared to Q1 in 2019.

This tremendous bright spot for EIA will be highlighted by the arrival of three Antonov AN-124 planes within 24 hours. The Antonov-124 is one of the largest planes in the world, surpassed only by the Antonov AN-225 and a small group of specialty transport planes. These AN-124 planes will be parked at multiple aprons at EIA as they require complex logistical operations and need large maneuvering and handling areas for safety.

“Our cargo team has been working flat out during this time of crisis to secure flights for EIA and help put our vast cargo infrastructure to good use for our community and region to keep supply chains moving. We’ve never hosted three Antonov flights in such a compressed period and we’re proud of how our entire cargo community has risen to this challenge. EIA offers several competitive advantages for cargo delivery including being the closest major North American airport to Asia via circumpolar routes, as well as close access to rail and trucking distribution systems.”

  • Tom Ruth, President and CEO, Edmonton International Airport

“We’re pleased to work with Edmonton International Airport. Their cargo team has gone above and beyond to facilitate our needs for our clients and ensure our flights are handled professionally with all essential security procedures needed and on time. We appreciate professional assistance provided ensuring on time performance for our charters carrying vital PPE cargo.”

  • Ekaterina Andreeva, Commercial Director Charter Cargo Operations, Volga-Dnepr Airlines operator of the Antonov flights

Due to client confidentiality, the exact manifest, details and volumes of each cargo plane cannot be released. Many of the cargo charters have been dedicated to medical personal protective equipment but there has also been an increase in e-commerce deliveries associated with more online shopping. Flights have been coming from multiple parts of the world including Asia, the United States and Europe. In the coming weeks more cargo charter flights are currently scheduled to arrive at EIA, showing continual demand for this service.

“We look forward to welcoming back more passengers in the future but until that time cargo flights are bringing needed traffic and activity to EIA and the entire Edmonton region. We plan to keep building on the relationships we’re establishing for many years to come, to the benefit of our entire region.”

  • Tom Ruth, President and CEO, Edmonton International Airport

Facts about the Antonov-124

  • Aircraft weight – 402 tonnes
  • Lift capacity – 150 tonnes or roughly 23 African elephants
  • Dimensions
    • Length – 69.1m
    • Height – 20.8m
    • Wingspan – 73.3m
  • Speed
    • Top speed 865 kmph
    • Cruise speed 800 – 850 kmph
  • Range – up to 5,000km (depending on cargo weight)
  • Number of aircraft worldwide – 55
  • Country of manufacture – Ukraine and Russia

About Edmonton International Airport

Edmonton International Airport is a self-funded, not-for-profit corporation whose mandate is to drive economic prosperity for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. EIA is Canada’s fifth-busiest airport by passenger traffic and the largest major Canadian airport by land area. EIA offers non-stop connections to destinations across Canada, the US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. EIA is a major economic driver, with an economic output of over $3.2 billion, supporting over 26,000 jobs. EIA’s Airport City propels new jobs, tourism and economic diversification – and creates a destination in and around EIA, featuring entertainment, e-commerce, retail, hospitality, cargo/logistics, bio-pharma, light manufacturing and many other industries. EIA is focused on digital strategy to ensure it becomes the airport of the future. For more information, please visit:, follow @flyeia on TwitterInstagramLinkedin or Facebook.

About Volga-Dnepr Group

Volga-Dnepr Group is the world leader in the unique, oversize and heavy cargo market, successfully representing the Russian airfreight industry in the international market since 1990. The Group’s core businesses are charter cargo operations using unique AN-124-100 and IL-76TD-90VD heavy transporters (Volga-Dnepr Airlines) and scheduled cargo operations using the fleet of Boeing 747 (AirBridge Cargo Airlines) and Boeing 737 (Atran Airlines) freighters.