The plane was unique. Developed for the Soviet Union’s space program and the transport of the Russian space shuttle Buran, the An-225 was converted into a commercial cargo aircraft at the beginning of this century.
A second aircraft has been under construction for years, but its development is plagued by money problems. According to the Ukrainian state-owned company Ukroboronprom, it will take at least five years before the rebuilt An-225 can be used again.
Smaller brother is alternative
Until then, forwarders will have to look for alternatives. Marco Lauwerer works at such a company, Deugro Nederland, and mediates in the realization of transport between customer and carrier. He had recently sent a customer who needed to quickly deliver goods to a company in the petrochemical industry a proposal for a transport by An-225.
“It was a device like no other that we could use for projects where a very large or heavy load is urgently needed,” he says. Transport by ship is then not an option, because such a transport takes weeks.
The aforementioned oil company needs parts from Europe for repairs to a complex in the Middle East. “We suggested they do two flights with the An-225. An alternative is the smaller An-124, but then we have to fly three times.”
Negotiations were still ongoing, because a flight with the huge Antonov cost millions. It would be the first time that Deugro Nederland would charter the An-225.
Sporadically in the Netherlands
Despite the exorbitant costs, flight data shows that the Antonov was anything but standing still. In recent months, frequent flights have taken place between China and Europe. The last flight dates from February 5 and went from the Danish Billund to the home port of Hostomel. There the aircraft was destroyed on February 24.
In the past, the mega-Antonov also visited the Netherlands. For the first time in 2005 in Eindhoven, from where the plane brought emergency aid to Pakistan after a severe earthquake. And in 2007 the An-225 was at Schiphol, to the delight of the arriving plane spotters. They came to the airport so en masse that there was a traffic jam.
The Amsterdam channel AT5 made this report in 2007 about the arrival of the Antonov: