Russian low-cost airline Pobeda says it will continue operations despite heavy sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.   

“We are going to defend our fleet in the legal framework. A lot depends on the behavior of the owners of the aircraft,” Pobeda’s director of legal operations Aleksei Tankevich said in an interview with Russian state news agency TASS. 

“So far there is no clear understanding of how the lessors are going to behave, so, it is difficult to say what legal mechanisms our company is going to employ to protect itself,” Tankevich added. 

Pobeda is a low-cost arm of Russian flag carrier Aeroflot. It has a fleet of 44 Boeing 737-800 airliners, all of which have been leased from various companies. Some of the lessors are from the European Union, which implemented sanctions prohibiting the sale or lease of aircraft to Russian companies.  

According to Tankevich, 41 of Pobeda’s aircraft are operational, and “several” of the lessors have already requested that the planes be returned after the sanctions were announced. 

On February 27, 2022, Russian newspaper Izvestya reported that three of Pobeda’s aircraft were already “being taken away”, with one being ferried to the EU via Turkey. 

According to consulting firm IBA, at least 589 aircraft operated by Russian carriers will be affected by the situation. 

The sanctions require the aircraft to be returned by 28 March, 2022.