EU sanctions will see hundreds of leases cancelled for Russian planes

Multiple lessors are set to terminate lease agreements with Russian airlines by March 28 following sanctions imposed by the EU.

It is estimated that 777 of 980 commercial passenger jets currently in operation are leased, of which 515 jets with an estimated value of £7.5 million are rented from foreign companies in the predominantly Ireland-based industry. Lessors affected include AerCap with roughly 5% of its fleet by net book value leased in Russia at the end of 2021. The company has 152 planes combined on lease in Russia and Ukraine. Russian airlines which are clients of AerCap include Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, Rossiya, Azur Air and Ural Airlines.

The world’s second-biggest leasing company, Avolon, has under 20 airplanes in Russia and a couple in Ukraine from a total fleet of over 550 aircraft. BOC confirmed that it had 18 planes, representing 4.5% of its owned fleet, based in Russia, which have been placed with Aeroflot subsidiary Pobeda as well as Ural Airlines, S7 Airlines and AirBridgeCargo Airlines.

It is believed that Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) has a minimum of three Russian airline customers, including Aeroflot, based on its website’s details. While cancelling the leases may be straightforward, retrieving the planes may not be so simple with the potential for Russian carriers and Russian aviation authorities failing to comply. In addition, with the EU and the UK having banned all Russian-owned, leased or chartered aircraft from using its airspace, and Russia having retaliated by closing its airspace to all UK and EU aircraft, getting to the aircraft to repossess them may also be difficult and potentially dangerous.

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