March 24 - The giant Antonov An-225 - the world's largest freighter aircraft - has joined the international effort to provide relief supplies to Japan in the wake of the country's recent earthquake and tsunami.

The Paris office of charter broker Air Partner chartered the aircraft to carry 145 tonnes of including blankets, food, water, medicines and respirators from Chateauroux in France to Tokyo Narita Airport, as part of France's relief effort for Japan. The flight was organised by Antonov Airlines. Additionally, the load comprises a range of specialist equipment for relief teams such as pumps, compressors, generators, dosimeters (which measure an individual's exposure to radiation), and radiometers (to measure the power of electromagnetic radiation).

Richard Smith, Air Partner's freight director, said: "The aircraft was ideal for the task as it allowed us to move the entire payload in one airlift which was commercially beneficial for the client. Following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, Air Partner has been involved in assisting the Japanese relief effort from the outset. We flew one of the first relief and medical support teams into the region, as well as their equipment, and this latest flight is part of our on-going operations on behalf of governments, corporate companies and international charities."

Adds Antonov Airlines' commercial director Valery Kulbaka: "Through our business, Antonov has longstanding relationships with Japan. We share everyone's concerns for the wellbeing of those affected by these events. The An-225 (pictured below) will play its part in the relief effort.