The former head of Antonov has been charged with alleged “negligence” following the destruction of the Antonov AN-225 Mriya aircraft at the start of the Ukraine-Russia war, reports HLPFI’s sister publication Air Cargo News.
State-owned Antonov Airlines was based at Kyiv-Antonov airport in Hostomel, but the airline’s freighter fleet came under attack as the conflict spread throughout Ukraine.
Serhii Bychkov, the former general director of Antonov is alleged not to have taken “appropriate” action to ensure the aircraft was safely transported out of the country, according to the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU).
On April 5, the SSU said in a press release: “The investigation revealed that in early 2022 the head of the state-owned enterprise was supposed to organise a timely evacuation of the aircraft from Hostomel airfield.
“For protection, it was to be transported to the airport in Leipzig, Germany. According to the investigation, on the eve of the full-scale invasion, the AN-225 was in proper technical condition, which allowed it to fly outside Ukraine.
“Instead, the company’s director general did not give the appropriate instruction to evacuate Mriya abroad. The official’s criminal actions led to the destruction of the Ukrainian transport aircraft, causing losses to the state in the amount of UAH8.4 billion (USD227.4 million).
The SSU is currently investigating the alleged “criminal activity” jointly with the National Police under the supervision of the Specialised Defence Prosecutor’s Office of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
In April last year, months after the conflict in Ukraine began, Antonov Airlines confirmed its fleet of AN-124 aircraft had been relocated to Leipzig /Halle Airport, as HLPFI reported here.
However, the company confirmed the loss of several aircraft in addition to the already confirmed destruction of the six-engine AN-225.