What The Heck Is Going On With This Aeroflot Flight?

What The Heck Is Going On With This Aeroflot Flight?

36

Global aviation has been absolutely wild in the past couple of days, as airlines are dealing with new airspace restrictions. Russian airlines are most impacted, as countries around the globe impose sanctions against Russia.

I’ve highlighted some of the strange Aeroflot flights we’ve seen in the past 24 hours, but I think this one might take the cake.

Aeroflot’s aborted flight to Verona

The European Union has banned Russian airlines from its airspace. This was a bit complicated for planes that were returning to Russia from abroad, as they had to take some circuitous routings. However, we haven’t seen too many flights leave Russia today while blatantly trying to violate rules.

One exception is Aeroflot’s flight SU7236, which filed a flight plan from Moscow, Russia (SVO), to Verona, Italy (VRN). Yes, Italy is in the European Union, at least last I checked. Interestingly that flight number isn’t one that Aeroflot usually uses, suggesting that this was some sort of a special flight.

Nonetheless, the Boeing 737-800 with the registration code VQ-BWF began its flight at around 2:30PM Moscow time. The direct air distance between the two airports is 1,372 miles, so ordinarily that flight would have taken around three hours.

Of course that’s not the routing the airline took, since stuff is complicated nowadays, and you can’t typically fly to destinations you’re banned from:

  • The plane started flying east to avoid western Russia (as all airlines are right now), and then slowly started turning west, eventually flying over Georgia and then Turkey
  • Roughly five hours after takeoff the plane made it to the border of Turkey and Greece, where the flight entered a holding pattern
  • After holding for roughly 30 minutes, the plane once again turned east, and then entered another 10 minute holding pattern closer to Istanbul
  • Well over six hours after taking off from Moscow, the plane diverted to Istanbul (IST); as of the time of this post, the plane is still on the ground there
Aeroflot SU7236 overall flight plan
Aeroflot SU7236 holding patterns

What exactly happened here?

Aeroflot has operated some questionable routings as bans were put into place, and Aeroflot planes were abroad. For example, an Aeroflot A350 transited Canadian airspace hours after being banned, allegedly arguing that the flight was operating on humanitarian grounds.

But this situation is pretty black and white. An Aeroflot aircraft departed its hub to fly to a country it’s banned from operating to. So what was going on here exactly?

  • Was Aeroflot again claiming this was a “humanitarian” flight? If so, was clearance not received for that in advance, or what?
  • Since the plane is technically registered in Bermuda, did Aeroflot think it could get away with this, arguing it’s not a Russian aircraft?
  • Does Aeroflot simply not care, and decided it might as well give the flight a shot and see what it can get away with?

The only semi-logical explanation I can come up with is that this airplane was being repossessed, since many leasing companies are having to terminate leases with Russian airlines. Maybe the paperwork wasn’t filed correctly?

I don’t have an answer, but this sure is mighty strange, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is curious what’s going on…

Bottom line

Aeroflot is now banned from dozens of countries, meaning the airline won’t be doing much international flying. Nonetheless the airline tried to operate a flight to Italy today, only to be turned away at the border between Turkey and Greece.

The Aeroflot 737 then diverted to Istanbul, presumably because it didn’t have much fuel left. I’m curious what happens with this flight next.

Anyone have any insights as to what was going on with this Aeroflot flight?

Conversations (36)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Len Guest

    On the evening of March 9, Aeroflot flight SU159, an Airbus A350-900, tail number VQ-BFY departed Cancun, Mexico for Moscow. It is currently over the North Atlantic after taking a circuitous route that took it east over Cuba, then a sharp northward turn before it would have entered US airspace over Puerto Rico. The projected route (FlightRadar24) shows it arcing over Scandinavia, crossing Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish airspace before crossing over into Russia. We will...

    On the evening of March 9, Aeroflot flight SU159, an Airbus A350-900, tail number VQ-BFY departed Cancun, Mexico for Moscow. It is currently over the North Atlantic after taking a circuitous route that took it east over Cuba, then a sharp northward turn before it would have entered US airspace over Puerto Rico. The projected route (FlightRadar24) shows it arcing over Scandinavia, crossing Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish airspace before crossing over into Russia. We will see in about 3 hours or so if it changes course and arcs north or Scandinavia and approaches Moscow from the north.

  2. Ryan Guest

    The airplane is probably leased to Aeroflot by Irish airplane lessor AerCap. The Irish company owns about $2.5 billion flying in Russia (149 airplanes) and have terminated the leases and are recalling the aircraft.

  3. Anne Guest

    “Special” passengers??

  4. Slarty Guest

    Why so many private jets flying into and out of Russia, and through closed European airspace?

  5. Scotty Guest

    Who would want to return to Russia anyway?

  6. Don MIMS Guest

    Confiscate it and sell give proceeds to Ukraine for food

  7. Geo Guest

    How are they countries legally banning Russian civilian aircraft? ICAO First Freedom of the Air regulations?

    1. warren trout Guest

      ICAO does not give such rights

    2. Lewis Guest

      Has anyone noticed if the passengers are leaving there on other airlines trying to end run sanctions or is there plenty of people in place to keep that from happening..I know that would be the logical thing to do but I also understand that is alot of people to keep up with...do airlines self police there selves or are government agencies handling this?? thanks..I am curious about that..

    3. Adrienne Kraft Guest

      The Russian government is a majority owner of the Aeroflot, so it is not a civilian airlines.

  8. RJ Guest

    Nordwind is operating a flight from Moscow to Cancun today. For passengers who enjoy long ocean views.

    1. C Gonz Guest

      México had opened it's space to Russia, I read that yesterday

  9. Tracey Guest

    Yes I was watching intrigued too, on my Flight Radar app. It came up as ‘ a flight of interest’
    I couldn’t work out what on Earth they were doing... fuel was going to be a problem at some stage.
    So who knows what happened from there once they landed? I’m surprised it didn’t make bigger news.

  10. Nicholas Peter Leavsley Guest

    They seem to do what they like they should do what the Russians would do if we entered there air space shoot it down

  11. Raymond D Guest

    I was a Air traffic controller for 35 years in the US. Aeroflot (and others) has lied and tried to evade the rules and air space requirements frequently. The humanitarian excuse is invalid.

  12. Emily Guest

    Russia has been operating special flights to bring back support staff from its embassies and consulates. There has been confusion with these flights due to the ban, which cannot apply to the movement of diplomats and government officials.

    1. Lewis Guest

      Just a question about that.. can they consider military people government officials?? I'm trying to learn as much as I can on this stuff.. thanks

  13. Cleo Guest

    Perhaps the pilots were seeking asylum? Regardless, all of this is quite strange.

  14. Creditcrunch Diamond

    It’s possible there is some limited exemptions to allow Russian nationals to return home, with the inbound flights EU nationals and outbound Russian citizens.

  15. Joel Roossin Guest

    If a Russia flight tries to fly over a country where it is banned or needs to make an emergency landing in a country where it is banned to fly over or land, all Russia citizens on the plane should be jailed. They should know better to not get on any flight to a country that has banned them.

  16. Luke Guest

    Haha trying to be sneaky. It violated EU airspace nevertheless, entering Greece briefly as per your screenshot.

    1. Jade Guest

      Unfortunately Mirya it's been destroyed by Russian , on the 2 or 3rd day of invasion. Was on polish tvn.tv chanel.

  17. MDA Guest

    Not related but @ben are you aware of the story around the Antonov AN-225? It’s reported to have been destroy. Not sure if it is true.

  18. Jon Guest

    I watched the plane land at Istanbul but instead of approaching the terminal it was sent to an apron with no disembarkment facilities. I am watching thing to see if it reappears!

  19. Roamingredcoat Gold

    https://en.sun.mv/72921 Maldives cannot catch a break. Hopefully can catch a break from all the Russians storing their yachts there to prevent them being seized.

    1. TG93 Guest

      Saw the Aeroflot plane at MLE yesterday when landing here.

  20. stogieguy7 Diamond

    It's not clear to me what happens with the passengers on board the flight. Can they transit through Istanbul or must they return to Moscow? Even though it's not logical, I could see the latter happening as Turkey was never their intended destination so pax weren't cleared to arrive there. But exceptions can be made. Obviously, it would make more sense to allow the passengers who could board connecting flights to Italy to do so....

    It's not clear to me what happens with the passengers on board the flight. Can they transit through Istanbul or must they return to Moscow? Even though it's not logical, I could see the latter happening as Turkey was never their intended destination so pax weren't cleared to arrive there. But exceptions can be made. Obviously, it would make more sense to allow the passengers who could board connecting flights to Italy to do so. There are quite a few connections between Istanbul and various airports in Italy - even if Verona isn't necessarily one of them.

    1. Lewis Guest

      That was my question but doesn't that make that an endgame around the sanctions??

  21. Eskimo Guest

    I remember asking something similar to this scenario once.

    Only my questions was more extreme as the only diversion is the destination.

    Maybe next time Aeroflot might try that flying to ATH and keep circling over the Aegean until ATH is the only out of fuel landing site.

  22. iv Member

    A Russian registered Antonov AN124 - Volga Dnepr #VI5854 RA-82078 - arrived in Toronto from Anchorage early this morning. But it will not be departing anytime soon due to Canadian airspace restrictions prohibiting Russian aircraft. An exemption needs to be requested.

    https://twitter.com/TomPodolec/status/1498070912465358848?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1498070912465358848|twgr^|twcon^s1_c10&ref_url=https://www.blogto.com/city/2022/02/russian-plane-toronto-airport/

    A Russian registered Antonov AN124 - Volga Dnepr #VI5854 RA-82078 - arrived in Toronto from Anchorage early this morning. But it will not be departing anytime soon due to Canadian airspace restrictions prohibiting Russian aircraft. An exemption needs to be requested.

    https://twitter.com/TomPodolec/status/1498070912465358848?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1498070912465358848|twgr^|twcon^s1_c10&ref_url=https://www.blogto.com/city/2022/02/russian-plane-toronto-airport/

    1. Valerie Guest

      Perhaps they will just take off without clearance like KLM 4805.

  23. Icarus Guest

    Humanitarian most likely means repatriation of nationals. Hopefully more anti Putin rallies in Russia as he’s a loose cannon. Americans supporting him, as I saw the other day, would clearly accept Mexico taking back what’s there’s and sending their army over the border at San Ysidro into California

    Slava Ukraini !

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Icarus -- Repatriation of Italian nationals? If so, I can't imagine a Russian state-owned airline would be "rescuing" people from Russia...

    2. Icarus Guest

      Sorry it wasn’t clear. Russian nationals if it’s a Russian flag carrier, however appears they didn’t have permission to operate. Otherwise how are Russians overseas expected to get home ? I imagine a fair amount are stranded now, however they can blame Putin.

    3. Giovanna Guest

      There was no flight with Aeroflot registered to land at Verona today. And I haven't read anything about Italian nationals beeing brought home (flights that would have probably landed in Rome and not at Verona), nor have I heard anything of Russians beeing asked to go home.

    4. Stuart Guest

      No one is stranded. You can still easily fly via IST or DXB to pretty much anywhere.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jon Guest

I watched the plane land at Istanbul but instead of approaching the terminal it was sent to an apron with no disembarkment facilities. I am watching thing to see if it reappears!

4
Emily Guest

Russia has been operating special flights to bring back support staff from its embassies and consulates. There has been confusion with these flights due to the ban, which cannot apply to the movement of diplomats and government officials.

1
Giovanna Guest

There was no flight with Aeroflot registered to land at Verona today. And I haven't read anything about Italian nationals beeing brought home (flights that would have probably landed in Rome and not at Verona), nor have I heard anything of Russians beeing asked to go home.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published