The Russian-built Freighter That Has Been Operating from Leipzig

The Russian-built Freighter That Has Been Operating from Leipzig
Photo Credit: Finnographie via

Over the last four weeks or so, it has been observed that a Russian-built freighter has been operating flights from Leipzig into Africa.

That being said, the aircraft doesn’t belong to a Russian company, as we will come to explore throughout this piece.

Without further ado, let’s get into it…

An Ilyushin Il-76TD Has Been Operating from Leipzig, Germany…

The Russian-built Freighter That Has Been Operating from Leipzig
Photo Credit: Marc Najberg via

UR-CTX is the Ilyushin Il-76TD in question that has been operating these freighter flights out of Leipzig, Germany over the last few weeks.

As per rzjets, it is understood UR-CTX was built in 1991, giving it an age of 32 years, and started out life with Aeroflot as CCCP-76810.

From there, the aircraft was handed over to Air Kazakstan as UN-76810 before being given to East West Cargo in 2006 for operation by the Sudan Air Force at ST-EWX.

From there, the jet was handed over to a company called ZetAvia, who have been operating the aircraft since, but no information on delivery dates. This is the company operating the flights from Leipzig.

What we do know about them is that their offices are based in Ukraine & the UAE and that the aircraft is under the Ukrainian register.

Who Are ZetAvia?

The Russian-built Freighter That Has Been Operating from Leipzig
Photo Credit: G. Najberg via

As per their website, ZetAvia is a company that specialises in air cargo transportation, service, and maintenance of Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft.

On the cargo front, this includes the “handling of heavy and oversized equipment, fragile and valuable cargo, and even livestock transportation”.

With Leipzig being a cargo airport, it would make a lot of sense for the aircraft to fly there.

The company also has a license to transport dangerous goods as well, and does have EASA TCO authorisation for Commercial Air Transport too.

Where Has The Aircraft Been Flying to From Leipzig?

The Russian-built Freighter That Has Been Operating from Leipzig
Photo Credit: G. Najberg via

Data from indicates that the ZetAvia Ilyushin Il-76TD has begun operations from Leipzig since October 15 and shows two consistent destinations:

  • Tamanrasset Airport, Algeria
  • Gao International Airport, Mali.

Tamanrasset Airport is a public airfield located in Southern Algeria, with just two commercial operators offering flights being Air Algerie & Tassili Airlines.

The airfield is used by the Algerian Air Force, with them being dubbed as “the primary military user of the airport”.

As for Gao International Airport in Mali, it caters to both civilian and military traffic, with the only commercial carrier operating out of the airport being Sky Mali.

On the military front, the Malian military are served, as well as the German military and UN Peacekeeping forces too.

This is also the airport that got into the news back in September when a unidentified Ilyushin Il-76, alleged to have been owned by PMC Wagner, overshot the runway and crashed during landing.

At this stage, it is of course unclear why this aircraft operates to Tamanrasset or Gao International Airport from Leipzig.

An Interesting Movement For Enthusiasts…

Photo Credit: Finnographie via

It remains clear that for enthusiasts, this movement has been one of interest in Leipzig, especially with the rarity of the Ilyushin Il-76 nowadays.

All eyes will be on how much longer this service will operate to the two destinations as well as the reason for these flights being established too.

But for now, all we can do is sit back and await the facts on this Russian-built freighter.

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By James Field - Editor in Chief 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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