The world's biggest aircraft will be regularly visiting the UK after Antonov Airlines opened a new British headquarters at Stansted airport, according to a report in The Times.

The Antonov An-225 Mriya is big enough for 50 cars and is capable of carrying 250 tonnes in total, which is the same as four fully loaded British Challenger 2 tanks.

Michael Goodisman, business development director for the airline's UK office, was confident the move would lead to an increase in the airline's supersized transporters using British airports.

"With Antonov now away from its joint venture and developing independently, they are looking to the UK as a good commercial operating point," he said. "This is all about Antonov's desire to engage with the West . . . and develop a closer relationship with the UK."

An An-124 was used to carry a British helicopter to the Far East from the new base last week.

The company's closer union with Britain has come after it seized operations with Russian heavy air-cargo specialist Volga-Dnepr.

Antonov's heavy aircraft have made 550 cargo flights to and from Britain over the past decade, usually transporting oil and gas equipment.