The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) issued a host of recommendations for airlines in an attempt to negate Western sanctions.
Documents detailing the recommendations have been published by numerous Russian aviation news websites and social media channels.
One such recommendation, ostensibly issued on March 4, 2022, advises airlines to “promptly” apply to place all foreign-registered aircraft on Russia’s aircraft registry.
Multiple Russian airlines have registered aircraft abroad for various reasons, such as avoiding taxes. For example, many of the aircraft belonging to Russian flag carrier Aeroflot have been registered in Bermuda. While there have been previous attempts to ban these practices, none were successful.
Also on March 4, 2022, an unconfirmed memo said to be from Rosaviatsiya surfaced, purportedly urging airlines to “take the access to the technical documentation of foreign-registered aircraft under special control”. It also advised airlines to dedicate the task of keeping the documentation to a responsible person.
In addition, the head of Rosaviatsiya Vitaly Savelyev urged airlines to take special care of aircraft and prevent any accidents that could result in damage to their assets.
“They are not going to forgive us our mistakes. The aircraft are made of diamonds now,” Alexander Serov, the head of Rostovaeroinvest, said in a letter published after a meeting with Savelyev.
On March 5, 2022, Rosaviatsiya issued another memo, recommending that airlines stop conducting international flights with any leased aircraft in their possession. The recommendation was motivated by “Russian airlines and passengers becoming an instrument and a hostage in a political struggle due to unfriendly decisions of numerous foreign states.”
Following the recommendation, Aeroflot issued a statement confirming that from March 8 it will suspend all international flights except for those to Belarus. The suspension extends to Aeroflot’s subsidiaries Rossiya Airlines and Aurora Airlines.
On March 2, 2022, Russian media reported that the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation has been discussing an option to nationalize the fleets of Boeing and Airbus aircraft acquired from foreign lessors.
Reportedly, nationalization of the fleet is considered “the most realistic option” to preserve the country’s transport capability, as a sizeable number of aircraft must be returned to lessors both within and outside the European Union.
Russia’s aviation industry has been targeted by numerous Western sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The sanctions include a ban on the sale and lease of aircraft to Russian airlines.