Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline, has purchased eight Airbus A330s from foreign leasing companies, the carrier said on Friday. It purchased these airliners “as part of the fulfilment of contractual obligations,” the airline added.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, foreign leasing companies have been hit hard after they were unable to recover their planes stranded in Russia. More than 400 planes leased from Western companies are currently grounded in Russia. The value of these planes is almost USD 10 billion.
On Friday, Aeroflot told Reuters it had purchased eight Airbus A330s from foreign leasing companies which were not named. The purchase could be an attempt to maintain good relations with lessors.
There is an exemption from European Union sanctions against Russia with respect to aircraft financial leases. This exemption implies the purchase at the end of the lease.
Aeroflot has a fleet of 12 Airbus A330-300s, according to data provided by ch-aviation.
Eight of these aircraft are under financial lease and belong to Vistavia Ireland DAC and Aviasky Ireland DAC. A financial lease is where the aircraft is owned by a bank or a special purpose company, and regular lease payments are made by the airline to the bank until the full amount is paid, and the airline owns or has the ability to purchase the aircraft.
GECAS owns two additional A330-300s operated by Aeroflot, Goshawk one and AerCap the last one. The latter is the only one not to have a Russian registration. Instead, it has Bermuda registration VQ-BMV.
Russian airlines have drastically reduced their international flights, fearing that aircraft, which are predominantly leased, could be seized abroad. Aeroflot first announced the suspension of all international flights in early March, but has since resumed flights to a handful of countries such as Iran, Sri Lanka, Armenia and Azerbaijan.