Russian carrier Volga-Dnepr Airlines, and indeed the entire air cargo industry, is in a profound period of mourning today after learning that six members of an An-124 crew were murdered last Friday during the terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali.
The six crew members were among 22 people who were killed when two armed gunmen, believed to be members of the al-Murabitoun terrorist organization, stormed the hotel on the morning of Nov. 20. Six other Volga-Dnepr crew members were rescued by Special Forces and survived the assault, later seeking refuge on board the An-124 freighter.
According to a Volga-Dnepr statement, the 12 men on the An-124 crew were guests at the hotel, staying overnight after flying construction machinery into Mali from Oslo, Norway. The Bamako Radisson Blu was commonly used by flight crews during layovers. Staff from Air France and Turkish Airlines were also staying at the hotel during the attack, but all managed to escape unharmed. Air France officials said the airline has temporarily halted all flights to Mali.
“The Airline’s Flight Operation Control Center is working with the Embassies of the Russian Federation and France in Mali, and a Boeing 737 aircraft is being prepared to fly to Mali to bring our deceased colleagues back home to Russia,” the Volga-Dnepr statement read.
During the airline’s official period of mourning, all flags at the airline’s head office have been lowered to half mast out of respect for the victims. “At this time, our priority is to provide the utmost support, comfort and assistance to the relatives of the Volga-Dnepr employees killed in the tragic events in Mali,” the airline statement continued. “Volga-Dnepr Airlines expresses its deepest condolences to the families and friends of our dear colleagues.”
Volga-Dnepr also released the names of the deceased crew, ranging in age from 27 to 56. They are:
- Stanislav Dumanskiy, aircraft mechanic
- Alexander Kononenko, flight navigator
- Vladimir Kudryashov, radio operator
- Pavel Kudryavtsev, aircraft mechanic
- Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy, flight engineer
- Sergey Yurasov, load master
To the friends and families of the victims, and to our colleagues and friends at Volga-Dnepr and AirBridgeCargo Airlines, we at Air Cargo World offer our deepest sympathy.
For more information about the incident and the crew members, please visit the airline’s website.