Russia Has Seized 222 Leased Aircraft, Analysis Shows
Russian operators have seized 222 commercial and business-jet aircraft that belong to lessors, taking advantage of a government edict that permitted them to re-register the airframes to take ownership and get them on the country’s registry, an Aviation Week analysis shows.
Not surprisingly, the majority are narrowbodies—including 73 Airbus A320ceos and 64 737 Next Generation variants that formed the backbone of the country’s fleet before its late February invasion of Ukraine. Four are business jets and 25 are widebodies, an Aviation Week Fleet Discovery report that tracks the registration changes reveals. The widebody list includes five A350s—all operated by Aeroflot.
The aircraft are owned by 41 lessors, including some with Russian roots but that leveraged registries in other countries, principally Bermuda. Lessors with significant exposure include Aergen Aviation Finance, with 51 seized aircraft; Aercap, with 20; and BOC Aviation, with 17.
At the start of the war, two-thirds of the 1,260 aircraft in Russian scheduled and non-scheduled operators’ fleets were built by Airbus, ATR, Boeing, Bombardier (MHI RJ Aviation) or Embraer. Most of them are leased, and lessors moved to repossess their aircraft to comply with sanctions that prevent sales and support of the Russian fleet. While some were repossessed, the majority were moved to Russian domestic routes to minimize exposure to repossession risks that foreign airports present.
Russia’s March 14 law sought to counter this, clearing the way for what Western entities see as illegal seizures of lessors’ aircraft. The sanctions prevent support—from maintenance and parts sales to providing verbal technical guidance—for the aircraft and Western suppliers report they are complying.