Some Russian Planes Returned to Foreign Lessors
Airlines Industry

Some Russian Planes Returned to Foreign Lessors

DALLAS – A few foreign aircraft lessors are happy these days as five Russian airlines have returned jets to them.

More than two dozen leased planes were sent back, according to a document seen by Reuters. The returns take place in spite of a Russian law that seized hundreds of leased planes in response to Western sanctions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions prevented Russia from receiving planes, parts and maintenance. Leasing companies asked Russia to return the jets to them. But Russia declined, in part because doing so would have brought air transportation across the country to a halt.

To protect its aviation interests, Russia seized hundreds of planes owned by foreign leasing companies and even put them on the country’s air register.

iFly EI-FSE Airbus A330-200 (Sanya Livery). Photo: Julian Schöpfer/Airways

Kept out of Reach

However, the document seen by Reuters showed that Rosaviatsia, the Russian civil aviation authority, was notified in March that several airlines which focus on charter flights had kept planes outside of Russia – and out of reach of those who wished to seize the craft.

Those airlines include Azur Air (ZF), iFly (F7), Nordwind (N4), Pegas Fly (PC) and Royal Flight (RL).

“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 pretext of maintenance,” Rosaviatsia’s document, dated March 9, showed.

No details are revealed in the document on why these airlines chose to keep their planes outside of Russia. None of the airlines responded to Reuters’ request for comment.

The Planespotters website showed a total of 31 aircraft, operated by ZF, N4, RL, F7, and PC, did not return to Russia after February 27, three days after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Those aircraft are based in Turkey, Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.

Nordwind Airlines M-ABLW Airbus A330-3-300. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

John Huston is a marketer, writer, and videographer who's always loved planes, clocked 10 whole hours in a Cessna and can spend hours wandering around ATL. Based in Atlanta, GA, United States.

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