Russia’s greatest airline, Aeroflot, said on Friday it had purchased eight Airbus A330 aircraft from foreign renting organizations “as a part of the satisfaction of contractual obligations”. In excess of 400 aircraft rented from Western firms, worth nearly $10 billion, have been abandoned in Russia since Western sanctions constrained the lessors to end their agreements and Russia barred its airlines from returning the planes.
To ensure that they can continue to have valid airworthiness certificates and Russian airlines can keep using them, Russian authorities have been transferring the aircraft to Russia’s own registry.
Aeroflot did not specify which firms the aircraft had been leased from. But the purchase could be a bid to maintain good relations with lessors by making use of an exemption to European Union sanctions against Russia in respect of aircraft financial leases – which involve purchase when the lease ends.
Meanwhile, leasing firms have resigned themselves to lengthy insurance claims to try to recover some of the lost value of the aircraft.
AerCap did not immediately respond to Reuters calls seeking comment.
The largest claim has been made by Dublin-based AerCap, the world’s biggest aircraft lessor, which has submitted a $3.5 billion insurance claim for more than 100 jets.
EU regulations governing sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine generally prohibit “the award and continued execution of public contracts and concessions with Russian nationals and entities or bodies established in Russia”. Aeroflot is majority-owned by the Russian state.
But one of the exemptions enacted on April 8 says national authorities in the EU may authorise “the execution of an aircraft financial lease concluded before 26 February 2022”, as long as it is “strictly necessary to ensure lease re-payments” and no payment is made beyond the transfer of the aircraft.
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