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Russia’s state airline Aeroflot says it will suspend international flights

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Russia’s state airline Aeroflot says it will suspend international flights

Russia’s state airline Aeroflot said on Saturday that it would suspend all international flights from Tuesday “due to additional circumstances preventing the performance of flights”.

The airline said the cancellations would also apply to its subsidiaries Aurora and Rossia, although Aeroflot said it would continue to fly to the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

According to the International Air Transport Association, a global trade group, Russia was enjoying scarce and strong aviation recovery as the only global market where domestic air traffic last year exceeded 2019. But the airline industry has been hit hard in the past two weeks, as countries around the world have imposed flight restrictions and sanctions on Russia over President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Mr. Putin and President of Belarus Aleksandr G. Lukashenko are allies, and Russian forces invade Ukraine from Belarus.

Separately, Russia’s aviation authority, Rosaviatsia, recommended on Saturday that Russian airlines with aircraft registered in foreign jurisdictions suspend all flights abroad from Sunday over fears they could be confiscated by foreign governments.

The suspension effectively leaves no way for a handful of Western companies to recover hundreds of planes leased to Russian carriers. Recent sanctions gave those leasing companies until March 28 to terminate their contracts with airlines in Russia. With dozens of Western countries and Russia issuing reciprocal flight restrictions, experts said the only hope for those companies to fix their planes was to fly Russian airlines to a neutral country. Saturday’s ban appeared to dash those hopes.

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According to IBA, an aviation consulting firm, there are currently about 600 foreign-owned aircraft leased to airlines in Russia. Those planes are estimated to be worth an estimated $12 billion, according to Ishqa, another aviation consulting firm, about a third of which are from Irish lessors. According to the IBA, Aircap, which is based in Dublin, is the most exposed in Russia with an estimated 142 leased aircraft. The company is the world’s largest leasing company for commercial aircraft and its clients include Aeroflot and Roscia.

Russian carriers may continue to use leased planes in the coming weeks, given the sanctions and the obstacles to returning them. But the restrictions could make it difficult for Russian airlines to use foreign-made aircraft inside the country for a long period of time as companies such as Boeing and Airbus suspended parts, maintenance and technical support services after the invasion. Airlines have few spare parts, but experts questioned how long they would last. Most of the aircraft leased to Russian carriers are Boeing or Airbus aircraft.

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