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KIEV: March 18, 2019. Antonov Airlines celebrates its 30th anniversary this month and has released an illustrated commemorative book to mark the event that includes contributions from employees and Christopher Foyle, the head of Air Foyle and the airline’s sales and marketing representative for 17 years.

For Ukranian Andrii Sovenko, author and an employee of aircraft manufacturer Antonov StC, the chronicling of its subsidiary Antonov Airlines in his book Wings Above the Planet has been a long time in production. By 2001 his history was almost complete but the retirement in 2005 of Antonov StC legendary aircraft designer Piotr Vasylovych Balabuev postponed the book’s publication until 2009, on the eve of the airline’s 20th anniversary.

Christopher Foyle and Antonov General Aircraft Designer P.V. Balabuev However geopolitics got in the way and added a further delay until now, some 10 years later, the book has been released thanks to the perseverance and publishing expertise of Foyle.

As he acknowledges in a foreword to Sovenko’s masterly history “it was [Balabuev] who conceived and implemented what was then a pioneering and innovative concept, which allowed the establishment of a business partnership between Antonov and Air Foyle and make it effective”.

Air Foyle had been an aircraft operator since 1978 and by 1982 was looking for larger aircraft. Four years later the company contacted Antonov StC but it wasn’t until 1989 - with the collapse of the Soviet Union on the horizon - that Christopher Foyle and Balabuev, the latter perhaps realising his aircraft company could earn valuable foreign exchange to pay for new development with the chartering of the An-124 ‘Ruslan’, signed a deal.

For Konstantin Lushakov, Antonov Airlines’ managing director from the fall of the Soviet Union until 2016, commercialising the Ruslan not only saved the aircraft from the collapse surrounding the immediate post-Soviet era but also provided a lifeline for the aircraft company responsible under Balabuev for designing and producing the An-22, An-72, An-74, An-32, An-28, An-124 and the awe-inspiring An-225.

Readers not steeped in the air transport history of Russia and the Ukraine will discover that Antonov Airlines is not the product of an opportunistic oligarch but an outsize heavylift carrier succeeding despite the odds – or even because of them. Published by Christopher Foyle Publishing, the book Wings Above the Planet – The History of Antonov Airlines by Andrii Sovenko is available from www.crecy.co.uk.

(Pictured left to right: Christopher Foyle and Antonov General Aircraft Designer P.V. Balabuev. Courtesy of the publisher.)

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