The US government took steps on Thursday to impede US exports to three Russian airlines – Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, Azur Air and Utair.

In what has been described as unprecedented enforcement action, the Department of Commerce said the move would prevent the three carriers from receiving goods from the US, including parts required to service their fleets.

According to officials, the orders were implemented to three airlines that had already violated US government restrictions in an attempt to prevent further violations in future.

Aircraft “unable to continue flying”

Matthew Axelrod, assistant commerce secretary for export enforcement, told reporters that the imposed restrictions “are significant because it’s obviously difficult to keep flying if you can’t service your planes.”

In turn, Mr Axelrod said the effect on the sanctioned airlines is that their aircraft “will, over time, largely be unable to continue flying, either internationally or domestically, as they are now cut off from the international support and the US parts and related services they need to maintain and support their fleets.”

us imposes new restrictions on exports to russian airlines including aeroflot
The fresh sanctions were imposed by the US Department of Commerce on Thursday | © APK / Wikimedia Commons

When the safety of a flight is thought to be at risk, the Department of Commerce is permitted to grant exceptions to the sanctions, officially known as ‘temporary denial orders’. The orders automatically expire after 180 days but can be renewed.

Russia violating Chicago Convention

Whilst the order will likely go some way to hamper efforts by the Russians to keep their planes serviced, it is unclear for how long so, as the Russian government has already indicated it has plans to enable the continued maintenance of aircraft currently based within the country.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a law changing many foreign-owned jets over to the Russian aircraft registry. In doing so, Russia is thought to have breached the international rules that underpin civil aviation, known as the Chicago Convention.

The private sector has also enforced its own restrictions on Russian airlines in response to its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, one notable example being Delta suspending its codesharing partnership with Aeroflot in February.

Will these US sanctions have a meaningful impact on Russian airlines? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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