General Industry

Five Russian Airlines Have Returned Leased Jets - Document

By Dave Simpson
Five Russian Airlines Have Returned Leased Jets - Document

Five Russian airlines have returned more than two dozen leased airplanes to foreign lessors, a document seen by Reuters showed, even though Moscow has passed a law allowing the seizure of hundreds of jets as part a response to western sanctions.


The sanctions barred Russia from receiving planes, parts and maintenance and aircraft leasing companies asked Moscow to return jets under lease, a move that threatened to halt air transportation across Russia.

To protect domestic flights, Russia seized hundreds of planes owned by foreign leasing companies, putting them on the country's aircraft register.

The document, from Russian aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia, showed that it was notified that a number of Russian airlines focused on charter flights - Azur Air, iFly, Nordwind, Pegas Fly and Royal Flight - had kept their planes outside Russia.

"Jets of some operators... with foreign registration are currently located at foreign airfields, including in Turkey, in order to transfer them to the lessors on the pre-text of maintenance," Rosaviatsia's document, dated March 9, showed.


The document gave no details on why the five companies decided to leave their leased fleet outside Russia.

"The fate of the planes seized abroad is unknown to us," Nordwind said in a written reply to Reuters, declining further comment.

Azur Air, iFly, Pegas Fly and Royal Flight did not reply to Reuters requests for a comment.

The Planespotters aircraft tracking website said a total of 31 aircraft operated by Azur Air, Nordwind, Royal Flight, iFly and Pegas Fly did not return to Russia after 27 February and are based in Turkey, Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Vitaly Savelyev, Russian transportation minister, has estimated that around 400 jets leased from foreign companies have remained in Russia while another 78 were seized when they were outside the country.


Special Rouble Accounts

Some of Russia's top airlines, including state airline Aeroflot AFLT.MM, have opened special rouble accounts at domestic banks to deposit cash for jets under lease, and lessors will be able to claim the money once sanctions are lifted, the Vedomosti newspaper reported on Wednesday 1 June, citing sources. Aeroflot did not reply to requests for comment.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.