Putin allows Russian airlines to fly foreign-owned planes worth $10 billion

A civil jet aircraft of Russian Airlines Aeroflot produced by Airbus at Moscow-Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Leonid Verberg | Light Rocket | Getty Images

Foreign aircraft lessors seeking to repatriate $10 billion worth of planes from Russia were dealt another blow on Monday when President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing the country’s airlines to fly planes domestically.

Sanctions and the closure of mutual airspace in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month have shut down the Russian air travel market. Boeing Airbus said it would no longer supply spare parts to Russian airlines. That could force Russian airlines to take apart other planes.

There are about 728 Western-made aircraft in the fleets of Russian Airlines, 515 of which are leased to Russian companies by foreign lessees. Under EU sanctions against Russia, aircraft lessors, some of whom are in EU member Ireland, have until March 28 to take back the planes.

Under the new Russian rules, civilian aircraft in Russia will allow the country’s government to provide airworthiness certificates for aircraft and to register them in the country, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS. The law was in the works last week.

“There is an accidental nightmare, but the idea of ​​pulling an entire aviation market off the line and violating international laws, this is new,” said Richard Aboulafia, managing director of aviation advisory firm AeroDynamic.

Aeroflot and S7, two of Russia’s largest airlines, last week stopped flying internationally. Overseas flights may mean that lessors can take back ownership of the aircraft.

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