After European Union prohibited the selling and leasing of planes to Russian airlines, the Russian government might decide to nationalize Boeing and Airbus jets.
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Officials from Russia’s Transport Ministry have discussed the potential of nationalizing Airbus and Boeing jets with top executives from the country’s major airlines. Unnamed sources close to the situation told Russian business daily RBK that this is the case.
The policy might be used to counteract the European Union’s prohibition on selling and leasing planes to Russian airlines, which went into effect last week.
Deputy Transport Minister Igor Chalik and top personnel from the Aeroflot Group, S7 Group, Ural Airlines, and Utair are said to have discussed the matter.
Last week, Brussels allowed leasing businesses until March 28 to terminate existing leases in Russia.
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In a news release issued on February 25, the European Council stated, “this ban on the sale of all aircraft, spare parts and equipment to Russian airlines will degrade one of the key sectors of Russia’s economy and the country’s connectivity, as three-quarters of Russia’s current commercial air fleet were built in the EU, the US and Canada.”
Moscow has warned the West that sanctions against its aviation industry will result in retaliation. The final decision on foreign aircraft nationalization has yet to be taken, although an announcement is likely by the end of the week, according to the sources.
According to a source close to the discussion, “the nationalization of the fleet is the most realistic scenario, there are no other options [to maintain efficiency] right now,” adding that airlines have no legal authority to keep the planes when lessors demand its return.
The Russian government, according to the source, must make the decision. If they decide to buy the liners, they will have to talk to the US and the EU about it.
When asked about the possibility of nationalizing international airlines, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency told the media that the matter is still being evaluated.
As of mid-February 2022, the leading Russian airlines were flying 491 Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer aircraft, according to the agency. By the end of 2021, they had carried 80 million passengers, accounting for 72 percent of all Russian airline passenger traffic.