Russia completes buyout of seized western aircraft
Russia has bought out another 92 aircraft from foreign lessors, completing the acquisition of airplanes ut controversially seized in response to western sanctions.
Quoting AerCap and sources at Russian airlines, international wire service Reuters, reported completion of the transactions on December 22.
The US and its allies slapped sanctions on Russia, following its military operations in Ukraine in February 2022. Russia responded by stopping airlines from returning leased aircraft and transferring their registrations to the Russian register.
According to Reuters, the planes have been bought out using money from Russia’s National Welfare Fund, 190 billion roubles ($2.06 billion) of which has been allocated for the purpose.
The wire service further says ownership of the aircraft will now pass to Russia’s state insurance company NLK-Finance, which will transfer them to the airlines.
Reuters quoted Russian carrier S7 Airlines as saying 45 of its formerly foreign-owned planes had been bought out, while national flag carrier Aeroflot (AFLT.MM) said deals had been completed for 28 of its aircraft, with another 19 for Ural Airlines.
Russia re-registered foreign aircraft in its fleet without the owners’ consent, before beginning negotiations on buying them out.
Reuters adds that once foreign-owned planes are bought out, Russian airlines can use them on overseas routes without risk of them being seized.
Moscow’s move trapped more than 400 aircraft that were being operated by Russian airlines.