Russia plans to ban its airlines from registering planes abroad

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Russian aviation authority plans to ban Russian airlines from operating foreign-registered airplanes.

According to state news agency TASS, the plan was proposed in the meeting of the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, also known as Rosaviatsiya, management on March 12, 2021. 

The proposal is to be discussed further, but if accepted, the change will be included into the Aviation Code of the Russian Federation. According to the head of Rosaviatsyia, Alexander Neradko, the requirement might come into effect from January 1, 2023. 

Neradko estimates that currently there are over 800 foreign-registered aircraft operating with Russian airlines, which constitutes almost one-tenth of all Russia-based fleet and the vast majority of all commercial aircraft. 

As Rosaviatsiya report indicates, in 2018, over 90% of passenger traffic in Russia was conducted on foreign-registered airplanes. For example, almost the entire fleet of Russian flag carrier Aeroflot – including all of their Boeing and Airbus aircraft – is registered in Bermuda. 

Russian airlines avoid registering their aircraft domestically due to various reasons, including high import taxes. Russian airworthiness standards also have a bad reputation with lessors, which discourages registering leased airplanes in the country.

There have been many attempts by Rosaviatsyia to encourage airlines to register their aircraft domestically. In 2019, Russian government introduced a bill that allowed VAT exemption to all foreign-made aircraft registered in Russia.

The measure did not bring desired results. When Aeroflot started taking deliveries of brand-new Airbus A350 aircraft in 2020, they got, once again, registered in Bermuda. 

Rosaviatsiya has already proposed a similar ban in 2017, but the measure was not approved.

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