Russia accused of ‘stealing’ hundreds of planes

A new Russian law allows domestic airlines to register planes they charter abroad in Russia so they can fly them domestically.

Russia “stole” hundreds of planes, representing billions of euros in damages for its foreign rental companies, accused high European officials this Friday, after Moscow allowed the registration of these devices on its territory. Russian airlines have until Monday to return the planes, under airline sanctions adopted by the European Union after Russian forces invaded Ukraine a month ago.

However, according to a law promulgated by President Vladimir Putin and published on March 14, Russian airlines have the possibility to register in Russia the planes they rent abroad so that they can fly them in the country. This measure will allow companies to continue using these devices for domestic flights, despite Western sanctions. However, they would be confiscated if they were flown abroad.

“Most of the planes that they (the Russians) could fly abroad are rented planes, of European or US origin, which have now been stolen from their rightful owners, the lessors,” said the European Commission’s Director General for Transport. Henrik Hololei.

By re-registering the aircraft in Russia, the country’s authorities “seriously violated the laws on international air transport and the basic law of civil aviation, the Chicago Convention,” continued Henrik Hololei, who was speaking during an online traffic conference. European air. watchdog, Eurocontrol. “The Russians have de facto stolen property representing a large amount,” added Eurocontrol director general Eamonn Brennan.

1,367 aircraft in operation

“There are about 10,000 million (of euros), more than 500 devices seized by the Russians and registered with them. This creates a very difficult situation for European rental companies and for insurers,” he remarked. On March 12, civil aviation in Bermuda, where several hundred planes from Russian companies were registered, announced that they would break their certification starting the following day, paving the way for flight bans.

According to the Russian Transport Ministry, as of March 11, Russian airlines operated 1,367 aircraft, more than half of them (739) registered abroad. According to Cirium, a company specialized in the analysis of the aviation sector, 515 planes with the colors of Russian companies belong to lessors. As of March 14, 428 of them were a priori in Russia or Belarus, according to the same source.

Moscow “appears to act against international laws in the area of ​​rented property, which will have consequences for long-term relations” between tenants and Russian companies, Cirium noted.

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