Putin’s new law lets airlines register foreign planes in Russia
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to all kinds of sanctions from the international community. As it impacts the aviation industry, we’ve seen the following:
- Dozens of countries have banned Russian airlines from their airspace
- Many aircraft leasing companies have been prohibited from leasing planes to Russian airlines, meaning that hundreds of jets should be seized; as a result, Russian airlines have been told to stop operating most international flights, in hopes of preventing the planes from being seized
- Hundreds of jets being operated by Russian airlines are registered in Bermuda (for tax and insurance reasons), and Bermuda has revoked the airworthiness certificates for these planes, given the lack of oversight that’s possible
With the challenges that Russian aviation is facing, Vladimir Putin has today signed a law that essentially legalizes Russian airlines stealing planes. With this new law, Russian airlines are allowed to place airplanes leased from foreign companies on Russia’s aircraft registry.
With well over 500 jets in Russia being leased from foreign companies, this formally allows Russian airlines to continue to operate these planes. As it’s described, this new law is intended as a measure “to ensure the uninterrupted functioning of activities in the field of civil aviation.”
With these planes now allowed to be registered in Russia (according to Putin), they’ll be able to get domestic airworthiness certificates. Admittedly airlines will be limited in where they can fly these planes, so you can expect that these re-registered planes will only operate within Russia.
Why this development is actually significant
On the surface this development is significant but not — it’s absolutely nuts that Russian airlines are trying to prevent planes from being repossessed, though it’s not terribly surprising, given everything that’s going on.
Up until now there have been questions about how long the current situation would last. Are we talking days, weeks, months, years, or decades? With this move from Putin, we’re more or less assured that the impacts on aviation will be long-lasting.
Aircraft can only be registered in one country at a time, so I think it’s safe to say that with Russia trying to register these aircraft in a different country without the permission of the owners, the current operators of these planes will never be allowed to fly these planes internationally again (well, perhaps aside from flights to Belarus, etc.).
This is a major no-no, and will have consequences. Russia’s decision here means that Russian airlines will face issues even after the current situation is over. Then again, in the grand scheme of what’s going on right now, it’s hardly the most significant development.
Putin has signed a law allowing Russian airlines to re-register foreign aircraft in Russia. Yep, that’s despite the fact that these planes are generally owned by foreign leasing companies, and they’re supposed to be seized. This is an unprecedented situation for commercial aviation, but then again, these are unusual and scary times.
What do you make of this new law from Putin?