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3 Jun, 2022 10:57

Sri Lanka seizes Russian plane

Aeroflot was forced to cancel a flight from Colombo to Moscow after the local authorities barred the plane from leaving the country
Sri Lanka seizes Russian plane

The authorities in Sri Lanka have grounded a civilian aircraft belonging to Russian carrier Aeroflot, and seized the plane, local newspaper News First reported on Friday.

The Colombo High Commercial Court reportedly issued the arrest warrant following a complaint filed by Irish company Celestial Aviation Trading Limited, which is affiliated with aircraft lessor GECAS.

After Western states placed sanctions on Russia, aircraft lessors demanded that Moscow return leased planes for fear of secondary sanctions, as the restrictions barred them from pursuing financial relations with Russian air carriers.

Russia, however, kept the majority of the aircraft, stating that the demand to return them violated lease contracts. It also started registering the planes domestically so they could continue to operate. According to the Airfleets portal, the aircraft detained in Sri Lanka received Russian registration at the end of April, and was registered in Bermuda before that.

Aeroflot announced that a hearing on the release of the aircraft is scheduled for June 8.

Russian tour operator Intourist told the press that people who were waiting to fly home on the detained plane were accommodated in a nearby hotel.

EU sanctions introduced in February banned the supply of civil aircraft and spare parts to Russia, as well as their maintenance and insurance. In addition, the sanctions obligated lessors to terminate their existing contracts with Russian airlines.

In early March, the Federal Air Transport Agency notified airlines of cases of cancelation of airworthiness certificates for aircraft registered abroad, while in mid-March, the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) suspended the airworthiness certificates of aircraft from Russian airlines registered in Bermuda. Russian attempts to re-register the planes in the country were met with criticism, as some countries questioned the safety of flights on planes not checked by internationally-recognized registers.

At the end of May, the Chinese aviation authorities closed their airspace to Boeing and Airbus planes operated by Russian airlines, as “dual registration” of these aircraft does not meet international requirements.

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