Russian flag carrier Aeroflot announced on Friday that it purchased 8 Airbus A330 aircraft from foreign leasing companies. The purchase was made “as part of the fulfillment of contractual obligations”. 

Aeroflot’s woes continue

Russia’s biggest airline has struggled significantly in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. 

Russian carriers have been hit with an influx of issues – from certification of Russian aircraft being revoked by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to the likelihood that Russia could lose over half of its fleet by 2025, it has gone from bad to worse for Russian aviation. 

In March, Russia retaliated against Western sanctions by seizing all foreign-owned (particularly Western-owned) aircraft that were in Russia at the time. More than 400 aircraft leased from Western carriers, worth almost $10 billion, have been stranded in Russia as a consequence. 

But Aeroflot cannot fly the aircraft Russia has seized, meaning that they have lost practically all of its fleet. 

The Russian carrier has not specified which firms the 8 Airbus A330 aircraft have been purchased from. 

In order to keep valid airworthiness certificates and Aeroflot can use the A330s, Russian authorities are in the process of transferring the aircraft to its own registry. 

Aeroflot is able to purchase the Airbus aircraft because of an exemption to European Union sanctions against the country. 

Currently, EU regulations governing sanctions imposed as a reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine prohibit “the award and continued execution of public contracts and concessions with Russian nationals and entities or bodies established in Russia”. As Aeroflot is majority-owned by the Russian state this applied to them. 

However, an exception enacted on 8 April stated that national authorities in the EU can authorise “the execution of an aircraft financial lease concluded before 26 February 2022” as long as it is “strictly necessary to ensure lease re-payments”. Crucially, no payment can be made beyond the transfer of the aircraft. 

So, to summarise, Aeroflot was able to purchase aircraft from a leasing company so long as no money is exchanged outside of that. 

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