Volga Dnepr Antonov An-124 Flies Medical Products To India

A Volga Dnepr Antonov An-124 has arrived in India carrying critical medical supplies from Tianjin, China. The aircraft carried 12 containers with liquid medical oxygen to boost available supplies, ordered by a private company. The flight comes as airlines globally look to support India during a severe second wave and shortages in critical medical supplies.

Volga-Dnepr An-124 Getty
The An-124 is one of the largest cargo aircraft in the sky and has risen in popularity during the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

Essential flights

As India continues to face dire shortages of medical essentials like oxygen and ventilators, companies and governments have been flying in extra supplies. This week, an Indian firm hired a Volga-Dnepr Antonov An-124 to carry 12 containers filled with liquid medical oxygen tanks to Kolkata.

According to RadarBox.com, the aircraft flew from Tianjin to Hanoi first and made a long stop on the ground. After over 16 hours, the An-124 continued its journey to Kolkata, a flight that took just three hours and 12 minutes. The supplies arrived at 06:27 AM local time this morning (2nd May).

The plane carrying the containers is owned and operated by Volga-Dnepr Airlines, registration RA-82046. This An-124 is nearly 29 years old, beginning service with the airline in March 1993.

While this aircraft type has seen issues, it remains critical to the airline due to its size and cargo capacity. This plane was also briefly grounded from late November to mid-January but has since been cleared to fly and has been hard at work.


Volga-Dnepr is the latest in a series of airlines flying in medical cargo during this difficult time. While some carriers are completing commercial requests, others have even opted to fly medical supplies to India for free. This decision comes as India grapples with a catastrophic wave of COVID-19 that has overwhelmed the medical infrastructure.

Airlines are mostly carrying supplies like liquid oxygen, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, N-95 masks, PPE, and much more. The first two have arisen as the most critical need in India, as hospitals struggle to receive enough medical oxygen for patients.

Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa Cargo, India Aid
Airlines from across the globe are flying in oxygen-related equipment and more to support India’s efforts to deal with the current wave. Photo: Oliver Rösler via Lufthansa

Along with importing supplies, Indian airlines have also been flying tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses every week. Since all of the country’s vaccines are made domestically, airlines have been busy flying from Pune and Hyderabad to every corner of the country. Vaccines are crucial to cut down on deaths and infections in the future and prevent more cases.

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Borders closed

While airlines fly in cargo from around the world, countries have closed their borders to travelers from India. The decision comes as India adds over 300,000 daily cases and new variants are in circulation.

Countries like the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, and dozens of others have all restricted travel. Additionally, many countries are also asking their citizens to leave India and even flying repatriation flights.

For now, India needs any additional supply of medical supplies that are available to control this recent wave.