The Russian government of Vladimir Putin has issued a mandate effectively seizing the planes of European companies, according to aviation industry sources in Russia. As is quite common among commercial carriers, Russian airlines lease most of their aircraft. In total, Russian airlines lease more than five hundred planes from foreign companies, mostly based in Ireland. Declaring these aircraft “strategically important,” the Russian government has ordered Russian airlines not to return planes to their owners in European Union (EU) countries. Pobeda, the low-cost subsidiary of Russia’s largest operator—state-owned Aeroflot—has already announced its intention to retain the planes and prevent foreign companies from repossessing them.1
The order comes after the EU gave those companies until March 28 to terminate their lease agreements with Russian carriers, part of its sanctions against the Russian government following its invasion of Ukraine. The EU has also banned Russian airlines from flying into EU airspace, meaning leasing companies can repossess their planes only when they land in non-EU countries, such as Turkey. To prevent repossession, Russian carriers are now flying routes only within Russia and Belarus.2 . . .
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1. David Schaper, “Sanctions May Ground Russia’s Planes, But the Firms That Own Them Can’t Get Them Back,” NPR, March 13, 2022, https://www.wrvo.org/2022-03-13/sanctions-may-ground-russias-planes-but-the-firms-that-own-them-cant-get-them-back.
2. Simon Carswell, “Russian State Airlines Not Helping Irish Lessors Recover Aircraft,” Irish Times, March 7, 2022, https://www.irishtimes.com/business/russian-state-airlines-not-helping-irish-lessors-recover-aircraft-1.4820685.
3. Joe Cusamo, “Russia Considers Nationalisation of Aircraft to Save Aeroflot,” Travel Daily Media, March 10, 2022, https://www.traveldailymedia.com/russia-considers-nationalisation-of-aircraft-to-save-aeroflot/.
4. Jeanne Whalen, “Russia Considers Nationalizing Western Businesses That Have Closed over Ukraine Invasion,” Washington Post, March 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/03/10/russia-nationalize-foreign-business-ukraine/.