Ural Airlines Flies 3 Orphaned Black Bears Across Russia

Right now, a Ural Airlines Airbus A319 is transporting three brown bears from Yekaterinburg (SVX) to a wildlife center located in Khabarovsk (KHV) in Russia. Certainly a rare form of air freight, the orphaned bears were discovered as young cubs and nursed back to health. At their destination, they will continue their rehabilitation.

Ural Airlines Flies 3 Orphaned Black Bears Across Russia
The aircraft carrying the three bears is an Airbus A319. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Flight details

According to FlightRadar24.com, the Airbus A319-100, registration VP-BBG, left the Russian city of Yekaterinburg at 22:05. The flight is scheduled to arrive in the eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk at 08:50 the next morning.

The flight number is U6173, which appears to be a regularly scheduled, cross-country service that originates in the major Russian city of St. Petersburg in the west. From there, it stops in Yekaterinburg, before continuing to Khabarovsk. It appears to be a three-times-weekly service.

According to Airfleets, the A319-100 is nearly 19 years old and originally flew with American budget carrier Frontier. It then joined the Ural Airlines fleet much more recently, in 2016, leased from SMBC Aviation Capital.

The flight is an overnight service and will arrive at its destination just before 09:00. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Strange animals on planes

This freight is certainly a departure from the typical types of animals we see on commercial aircraft. The most common would probably be emotional support dogs. However, wild animals are often transported between facilities by air as it is the fastest – and sometimes the only method.

We recently wrote about Alaska Airlines’ “milk run” routes. Flight attendants who have flown on such flights have reported being onboard with animals such as reindeer and walrus. “The walrus kept belching, and it smelled like fish,” the one flight attendant reported.

In late November, we reported that a male panda named Bei Bei made a 16-hour flight on a FedEx Boeing 777-200, traveling from Washington’s Dulles Airport to Chengdu, China. Bei Bei was going to his new home at the China Conservation and Research Centre.

Ural Airlines normally operates an Airbus A320 on the Moscow to London route. Photo: Fedor Leukhin Wikimedia Commons

The Ural Airlines fleet

Ural Airlines is one of the smaller carriers in Russia, at least when compared to its more prominent Russian counterparts Aeroflot and S7. The carrier has a fleet of 48 aircraft, 29 of which are currently parked. The airline is an all-Airbus operator, with A319s, A320s, A321s serving its passengers.

While Ural Airlines has a long list of domestic destinations, it also has an impressive list of international services as well. This includes going as far west as the United Kingdom and France, and as far east (and south) as Thailand. The airline also normally serves eight cities in China, as well as a long list of flights to Eastern and Western Europe. There is also a regular service to Dubai.

Hopefully, the bears make it to their destination safely. With enough tranquilizer in their system, they should be able to make it through without much fuss!

Have you ever been on an aircraft with animals also on board? Let us know in the comments!