November 18 - Volga-Dnepr Airlines and Antonov Airlines have confirmed that their AN-124-100 freighter joint venture, Ruslan International, is to end on December 31, 2016.

This news follows reports in the Ukrainian media earlier this year suggesting that Antonov had severed all ties with Russian enterprises.

Volga-Dnepr and Antonov created Ruslan International in 2006 to jointly market their combined AN-124-100 fleets, with the aim of improving the availability of the aircraft to customers around the world.

In a statement, Volga-Dnepr said that it has the "full capacity to continue to support all existing customer contractual obligations", despite the end of the joint venture.

The Russian airline confirmed that it will continue its collaboration with Antonov for the technical aspects of airworthiness and flight safety support of its AN-124 fleet.

Dennis Gliznoutsa, vice president of development and special projects at Volga-Dnepr, explained that the Russian enterprise is a "private group of companies and a commercial enterprise" with a number of major customers in industries across the globe.

He added: "We are free to take commercial decisions that are in the best interests of our group and our customers and this represents a new and exciting chapter for Volga-Dnepr Group as we continue to build upon the reputation we have earned for service quality and reliability over more than 26 years.

"We have the advantage of the experience we gained from the end of our AN-124 joint venture with HeavyLift Cargo Airlines in 2001, and the subsequent growth of our outsize and heavyweight cargo business in the international market. We emerged from that joint venture stronger and now, 15 years later, we will do so again. 

"We now have an even more diverse and capable product offering for our customers under our Cargo Supermarket concept, which combines our growing AN-124, IL-76TD-90VD, Boeing 747 and 737 freighter fleet and logistics services."