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6 Jun, 2022 16:25

Sri Lanka releases seized Russian plane – media

A court order that barred the aircraft from returning to Russia has reportedly been suspended
Sri Lanka releases seized Russian plane – media

Authorities in Sri Lanka have suspended a court order that barred a civilian aircraft leased by the airline Aeroflot from returning to Russia, the local newspaper News First reports.

An Airbus A330-343 was detained in Colombo on June 2 at the request of Irish aircraft leasing company Celestial Aviation Trading Limited, with the court banning the plane from leaving the country until June 16. More than 200 passengers were removed from the flight and accommodated at a local hotel.

According to the news outlet, the detention order was overturned after the Colombo High Commercial Court heard a motion filed by the Attorney General. 

Aeroflot has not confirmed the development yet, but reports state that another Aeroflot airliner, which arrived from Moscow, flew 275 Russians from Colombo on Sunday, including the remaining passengers of the detained aircraft.

Following the incident, Aeroflot announced the suspension of flights to Sri Lanka due to “the unreliability of the situation in terms of ensuring safe flights of the airline’s aircraft” to the country. The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Ambassador of Sri Lanka Janitha Abeywickrama Liyanage last week, and issued a note of protest in connection with the detention of the plane.

Earlier this year, the EU imposed sanctions on Russia that targeted – among other things – the country’s transport sector, including a ban on the sale of aircraft, spare parts, and equipment to Russian carriers. In addition, leased aircraft were required to be returned to the lessors by the end of March. But Russia said it would keep the planes until the lease contracts expired and began to re-register the aircraft in the country. The latter move was met with criticism, as some countries questioned the safety of flights on planes that weren’t inspected by internationally-recognized registers.

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