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Russia bypasses sanctions to keep air traffic going

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Russia bypasses sanctions to keep air traffic going

Russia has gone to great lengths to keep its fleet of confiscated aircraft operational, including “cannibalizing” aircraft and buying them on the black market. aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Russia seized around 500 leased Boeing and Airbus planes after invading Ukraine.

However, it is difficult to keep the planes operational due to the lack of access to spare parts due to the sanctions.

The company survived by smuggling parts, buying them on the black market and “cannibalizing” other aircraft.

This is a machine translation of an article by our US colleagues at Insider. It was automatically translated and checked by a real editor. We welcome feedback at the end of the article.

Western sanctions against Russia have hit the country’s aviation sector hard, forcing the country to get creative to keep its planes running. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Western countries imposed heavy sanctions on Russia to punish Vladimir Putin.

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These included shutting down US, EU and other allies’ airspace, banning aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus from supplying spare parts to Russia, and banning countries like the US Türkiye to refuel Russian planes. The aim was to cut off Russia from the rest of the world. The Kremlin countered with its own sanctions. He even went so far as to confiscate around 500 leased Western-style aircraft that were being used sea ​​Reuters have an estimated value of ten billion dollars (about 9.11 billion euros).

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Despite attempts by many allied countries to reclaim the aircraft seized by Russia, most lessors had no choice but to hand over their aircraft to Russia due to airspace restrictions and opposition from the Russian government and airlines.

And that’s not all. In 2022, Russia was still receiving over $14 million worth of Western-made parts. But the illegal imports are not the only ones Methods that keep Russia’s airlines alive receive.

Creation of a “Frankenstein fleet

An Aeroflot engine is checked by maintenance in Russia. Denis Kabelev/Shutterstock

When countries stopped supplying parts to Russian airlines like Aeroflot and S7 Airlines, the companies were forced to find new suppliers. Some bought used planes from Iran and China, others cannibalized existing jets. However, theft of spare parts could render the resulting “Frankenstein fleet” worthless outside Russia’s borders. Lessors have since written off the planes with little hope of ever seeing them again.

In addition, the potentially non-flyable parts could create unnecessary safety hazards. Not to mention that once an airline runs low on inventory, it could trick pilots and mechanics into willfully overlooking certain repairs – much like Aeroflot reportedly did earlier this year.

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An Aeroflot Boeing 777-300ER parked at the gate of Los Angeles International Airport before the war. Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Since Russia has seized hundreds of planes, aircraft leasing companies have filed billions of dollars in insurance claimsto recover the lost funds – however, many are rejected by insurers. Still, some lessors might actually receive a check directly from the Kremlin.

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The reported last week Russian news agency TASSthat the government has allocated 300 billion rubles (about $2.96 billion) from Russia’s National Property Fund – essentially the money for bad times – to buy up 80 to 90 of the foreign-origin aircraft seized from the leasing companies.

Leasing companies in the EU can accept the payment thanks to an amendment to sanctions that says ownership of aircraft can be transferred to Russian airlines if a lease contract was signed before Russia invaded Ukraine, and only after all lease payments have been made became.

Airlines such as Aeroflot, S7, Ural Airlines, RusLine and iFly have signed their contracts, as reported by Aerotime Hub, but are still awaiting their NWF funding. The Russian airline Aeroflot already has part of the money received for ten Boeing 777-300ER.

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According to Russia’s state agency TASS, Russian Deputy Transport Minister Igor Chalik said he doesn’t know exactly when the airlines will receive the federal funds, but “our job is to complete this program by the end of September in any case.” As of July 1, Russia’s NWF was $145.6 billion according to the Ministry of Finance in the country, down from $153.1 billion on June 1.

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