Fresh sanctions: UK bans Russian airlines from selling valuable airport slots

Jed Leicester /

The UK government is banning Russian airlines from selling their landing slots at UK airports as part of fresh sanctions over the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The sanctions mean Aeroflot, Ural Airlines and Rossiya will be unable to sell their unused take-off and landing slots at UK airports. The UK government estimates these slots are worth £50 million ($62 million). 

“As long as Putin continues his barbarous assault on Ukraine, we will continue to target the Russian economy,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement on May 19, 2022.  “We’ve already closed our airspace to Russian airlines. Today we’re making sure they can’t cash in their lucrative landing slots at our airports.”  

Slots at capacity-constrained airports such as London Heathrow and Gatwick are highly sought after and can trade hands for millions of pounds. For example, in 2019, easyJet acquired 27 take-off and landing slots from collapsed Thomas Cook at London Gatwick and Bristol for £36 million ($45 million).  

The UK has already made it a criminal offense for any Russian aircraft to fly or land in the country. The government also has the power to remove aircraft belonging to sanctioned individuals or companies from the UK aircraft register. 

“Today, the UK Government has built on the strong action we have already taken against Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot, along with Rossiya and Ural Airlines. This means they will be unable to use their expensive landing slots at UK airports,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps commented. “Our actions will also prevent Russia from selling the slots, and cashing in on up to £50 million.” 

Truss added: “Every economic sanction reinforces our clear message to Putin – we will not stop until Ukraine prevails.” 

Russia has taken various measures to try and keep its airlines in the sky after being hit with a range of sanctions. The Russian government has re-registered foreign-owned planes, forcing major global leasing firms to write off the value of the aircraft they had leased to Russian carriers, and overhauled a decree on certification of parts and aircraft.  


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