What Will Happen To Western Aircraft Leased By Russian Carriers


?What Will Happen To Western Aircraft Leased By Russian Carriers


Reports have emerged that Russia will nationalise Western aircraft that Russian airlines have leased, as compensation for the sanctions imposed.

It has been reported that Russia is planning to perform a forced purchase of aircraft that Western lessors are seeking to repossess from Russian airlines. Furthermore, the reports suggest that this forced purchase will actually turn into a nationalization of these aircraft because Russia could claim that it cannot pay for these aircraft due to the sanctions imposed on it by the European Union.

Could Russia nationalize Western aircraft?

FrequentFlyers.ru reports that a source in Aeroflot has revealed a plan by Russia to forcefully purchase the aircraft that Russian airlines have leased from Western lessors.

The forced purchase would, however, actually amount to a nationalization on the basis that Russia cannot pay for the aircraft because of the sanctions imposed on it by the European Union.

The plan is for Russia to claim that it cannot feasibly return the aircraft anyway. The aircraft can be ferried across Europe to their leasing company despite the European Union’s ban on Russian aircraft flying in its airspace because, once the lease agreement is ended, the aircraft are no longer going to be considered Russian.

However, since the aircraft cease to be considered Russian from the moment that the lease agreement is terminated, this also means that they cannot be flown out of Russia because of Russia’s own ban on European Union aircraft flying in its airspace.

This would then mean that the termination of the lease agreement by either the Western lessor or the Russian airline would result in the Russian airlines continuing to fly their aircraft for free because there would not be a way for the lessors to repossess them.

Reports are also suggesting that Russian airlines are watching Boeing and Airbus closely, and the manufacturer that is perceived to have been more friendly to Russia will become the preferred manufacturer in the country once the sanctions are lifted (if ever)

Neutral countries could do the trick

Despite the conundrum of how the aircraft could be returned, it would be possible to circumvent this issue through a country that has not imposed sanctions on Russia.

The aircraft could be flown from Russia to a neutral country like Turkey. The lease agreement could then be terminated there, and then the aircraft could be flown to their European lessor.

But this would require the Russian airlines to agree to this, and reports by FrequentFlyers.ru suggest that this is not going to happen. Instead, Russian air carriers will act on the principle “you need it - you take it.”

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As the pandemic has shown, Russian airlines do not suffer much when they cannot fly internationally. The vast surface area of the country allows airlines to operate a busy timetable with domestic-only schedules.

Even Aeroflot, which is highly exposed to the international market, runs a vast domestic schedule. Just today, 4th March, Aeroflot has 127 departures out of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO).

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