Russia wants to buy leased planes subject to Western sanctions

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) — Bloomberg news agency reports that Russia offered to compensate owners of leased jets by Russian airline operators.


The government had ordered Russian airlines to keep the aircraft after western sanctions proposed lessors to repossess those planes. Western aircraft leasing companies are under the risk of losing billions of dollars on leased aircraft they can’t get back after Russia's newly implemented law.

Authorities in Moscow are now looking for ways to legally get around sanctions requiring international firms to recall the planes. Options include payments or an outright purchase of the jets, Russia's Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev said on Tuesday.
Lessors have so far been unwilling to negotiate on the matter, according to Savelyev. That’s most likely because any financial accord with Russian airlines would appear to present a clear breach of the sanctions.

“We are not losing hope but we are not giving them back, because that would mean to leave oneself without aviation,” Savelyev said.

Leasing firms doing business in Russia have demanded the return of hundreds of Airbus and Boeing planes to comply with economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the U.S. in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Under EU rules, they have to cancel contracts until March 28 but there is no way of repossessing the aircraft after Russia moved to keep them within its borders.
Russia has moved almost 800 aircraft to the local register, according to Savelyev. Bermuda and Ireland, where many of them have been registered, have suspended the airworthiness certificates of planes tied to Russia. The minister said 78 have been “lost” after being seized overseas.

International flights that remain possible even after widespread airspace closures are being operated by Russian-owned aircraft, including almost 150 Sukhoi Superjet 100s and 44 Boeing and Airbus models, he said.

The minister warned that sourcing parts for the remaining planes will become an issue and said authorities are examining how Iran managed to maintain flights under years of restrictions. He said Russia had 1,367 aircraft in total.

Experts says the transfer of the leased fleet to the Russian registry could be seen as a step toward the state-seizure of foreign-owned planes.
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