Home NewsU.S. News Anti-sanction measure: Russia moves to seize hundreds of planes from US and European owners

Anti-sanction measure: Russia moves to seize hundreds of planes from US and European owners

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Anti-sanction measure: Russia moves to seize hundreds of planes from US and European owners


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday that will allow Russian airlines to register aircraft leased in Russia from foreign companies as part of the government’s counter-sanctions, according to a Kremlin statement, And get a local airworthiness certificate there.

The bill would enable Russian airlines to keep their foreign leased planes and operate them on domestic routes, while making it harder for foreign companies to take back their planes without Russian government approval.

U.S. and European sanctions on Russia require leasing companies to take back all of the planes they leased to Aeroflot by the end of the month.
Western aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus (EADSF) and Boeing (Bachelor of Arts) Aeroflot has cut off access to spare parts needed to maintain and fly the jets safely. Aeroflot operates 305 Airbus jets and 332 Boeing jets, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.

Russia also has 83 regional jets built by Western manufacturers such as Bombardier, Embraer and ATR. Only 144 aircraft in Aeroflot’s active fleet are built in Russia.

Cirium data shows that 85 percent of these foreign-built planes are owned by leasing companies, and their combined value is $12.4 billion.

It is unclear how the leasing companies took possession of the planes while they remained on Russian soil. Additional sanctions banning Russian planes from flying to most other countries have largely limited its aviation industry to domestic flights.

The leasing companies did not respond to requests for comment on the Russian action, and it was unclear if they even wanted the planes back. The planes would not have access to replacement parts and would not have a valid airworthiness certificate acceptable to Western airlines.

“These jets will no longer be supported by parts and maintenance,” said Richard Aboulafia, managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory. “If they lose their airworthiness certificate, that’s a real problem, and that can happen if proper records aren’t kept, or especially if they get cannibalized parts.”

Losing 85 percent of foreign-made aircraft would be a severe blow to the country’s economy.

Russia is the largest country in the world by land area, more than twice the size of the continental United States. It needs a viable aviation industry to keep the economy afloat, said Charles Litchfield, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Center for Geoeconomics, an international think tank.

“It’s an important part of the Russian economy,” he said. “They want to keep some basic domestic industries. Russians don’t fly as often as Americans. They don’t fly to Siberia for vacation.”

With the need to transport engineers, other workers and equipment in and out of its remote oil fields, its aviation industry is a key link for the business, not just for international flights but domestic services for its energy sector.

“Aviation is an incredible driver of economic growth both domestically and internationally,” said airline consultant and analyst Robert Mann. “Without it, you’d be taking it back to an era of almost agrarian economies trying to operate through a rail network. .”

Betsy Snyder, a credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s Aircraft Leasing Co., said Russia doesn’t need all the planes it has seized because the hit to its economy by sanctions would significantly reduce demand for air travel.

“The Russian economy is in decline,” she said. “No one is going in and out of Russia, Russian citizens are losing money, so they don’t have the money to move on. It could be [airlines] would be a much smaller business. “

This increases the likelihood that many of the seized aircraft will be dismantled into parts.

“If you don’t have the right to make the part, then you shouldn’t make it yourself,” Mann said. “You don’t know what standard you’re using, did you get the internals right? When you put it in the turbo part of the engine, does it perform as designed?”

When a part reaches the end of its intended use, known as “green time,” airlines must choose between flying with a part that should have been replaced for safety reasons, or snatching parts from other aircraft, Mann said. .

“As long as your plane has green time, you can go through the process,” he said. “As you run out of planes, your network gets smaller and smaller and you can fly less and less each day until you don’t have an airline.”

So even keeping the planes won’t necessarily keep the Russian aviation industry going. “Within a year, Russia will no longer have any viable aviation industry,” Aboulafia said, adding that its aviation industry could soon find itself between sanctions on Iran and North Korea’s industries.

Can a country as big as Russia survive without a modern and viable aviation industry? “This is a paper that has never been tested,” Aboulafia said. “But it’s about to become.”

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