Airbus has announced it will stop buying Russian titanium over the next few months in a move to cut ties with the nation.
As the devastating Russia-Ukraine war prolongs, Russia has faced several sanctions and bans from the European Union and western governments. Russian coal and steel businesses have felt the full effects of the restrictions, while transactions involving oil and raw materials like titanium remain unaffected.
Russian Titanium Off the Sanction List
Back in March, a few weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Boeing announced that it had stopped purchasing titanium from its primary supplier VSMPO-Avisma. At the time, a proposal to sanction this largest Russian metal company was in review.
A month later, Airbus officially followed the American manufacturer’s steps by sourcing the metal from Japan and the US. But this only applies to the company’s military unit – the commercial aircraft still has to rely on the metal supply from Russia.
The European Union later rejected the sanction proposal in July.
Strategy: Switching Gears
In April, Airbus openly argued against sanctions on Russian titanium. Chief executive Guillaume Faury stated that the aircraft producer has started searching for more alternative metal sources, but it can take years to certify new suppliers as suitable, safe, and up to the strict aerospace standards.
He added that putting restrictions on titanium exports would harm the aviation industry more than the Russian economy.
Chief executive of Airbus Defence & Space, Michael Schoellhorn, announced that the company is currently in the process of becoming independent of the Russian Federation, and in a matter of months, not years, Airbus will no longer trade with Russia.
Titanium Market and Production
Titanium is essential in aviation; the use of titanium alloy in civil aircraft began in the 1970s. Its lightweight and profound resistance against heat and corrosion make it a material of choice for aero engines and bodies.
The most common natural form of titanium is Rutile; from it, titanium can be extracted and converted into a product called titanium sponge – ready to be shipped and used.
According to The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Russia was accountable for about 13% of titanium in the market last year, placing itself in the top 3 countries with the largest titanium production – after China (57%) and Japan (17%).
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