Volga-Dnepr Group has grounded its fleet of AN-124s after it was forced to make an emergency landing in Tolmachevo airport in Novosibirsk, Russia, on November 13.

The airline said the captain took the decision to return to the airport of departure due to technical issues; upon landing the aircraft rolled off the end of the runway. The incident in Novosibirsk was caused by an uncontained engine fan disk failure (series D-18T), which resulted in engine failure and the loss of control systems.

Following the incident, the Federal Agency for Air Transport has set up a commission, including Volga-Dnepr specialists, which is identifying the causes.

The decision to ground its fleet until the investigation is completed comes at a time when aircraft capacity is incredibly tight. It is understood that Volga-Dnepr’s fleet of AN-124s were fully booked.

Volga-Dnepr said that it will takes all the necessary actions to fulfil contractual obligations.

Whatever unfolds, it is likely that the general airfreight capacity crunch that has been a persistent feature of the Covid-19 crisis will be worsened by the withdrawal of the AN-124s. Those that were relying on these heavy lifters will likely face delays.