The Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation has been in discussions with the country’s largest airlines regarding the potential nationalization of all Airbus and Boeing aircraft to be returned to foreign lessors as part of Western sanctions.  

The meeting where discussions took place was first reported by Russian news site RBK, with reference to two unnamed sources, one of which is reportedly an employee of a major Russian leasing firm. 

According to the report, various options regarding how to keep aircraft leased from Western companies were discussed. RBK also says The Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation is “leaning towards” the option of nationalization. However, a decision has yet to be made.  

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsiya has not confirmed if the option is being discussed, stating that “the question [of keeping the civil aviation fleet – AeroTime] is being evaluated”, RBK added. 

According to the sources, the meeting was hosted by Russian Deputy Transport Minister Igor Chalik and involved representatives from the country’s largest aviation companies Aeroflot group (which owns Aeroflot, Pobeda and Rossiya), S7 Group, Ural Airlines and Utair. 

RBK also reported one of the sources as saying that nationalization of Russia’s civil aviation fleet is “the most realistic option” to keep it operational. 

The option of Russia nationalizing foreign property located on the territory of the Russian Federation was first hinted at by Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev on February 26, two days after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and day after the EU announced that it would implement major sanctions against the regime of Vladimir Putin. 

Sale and lease of aircraft to Russian companies was banned by the EU and several other countries, with the condition that leased assets must be returned by March 28, 2022.  

Several Russian companies, including Pobeda, a low-cost arm of Aeroflot, and an operator an entirely leased fleet of Boeing 737s, announced that they are going to “defend their fleet” and try to avoid losing the aircraft.  

According to aviation consultancy firm IBA, Russian companies operate at least 589 aircraft that will be affected by sanctions.

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