President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has begin using an An-148 aircraft as the presidential airplane, avianews.com reports.
Poroshenko traveled to Riyadh on an airplane of this model with the tail number UR-UKR on 24 January. A few days earlier, he flew to the World Economic Forum in Davos on an Airbus 319 aircraft. The reason for selecting an An-148 was for the longer trip was not specified, but it may be due to maintenance work on the A319 aircraft.
The An-0148 UR-UKR was produced at the Aviant plant (the Antonov serial plant) in Kiev in 2011 and delivered to the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) for operation of flights under the number UR-NTD. The actual operator of the aircraft was Antonov Airlines.
The UIA stopped using the An-148 for its flights in 2013, and the aircraft was transferred to the state-owned Ukraina airline for performance of special flights. Until recently, the aircraft performed occasional charter flights.
The A319 aircraft, which is the President of Ukraine’s main airplane, was ordered in 2007 during the presidency of Viktor Yuschenko. However, the Ukraina airline received the airliner only in 2010, after it was converted into a VIP modification.