Russia will use Iran’s experience in dealing with sanctions, Russian Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev said. 

Savelyev also revealed that the country is looking for “legal ways” of dealing with lessors whose aircraft have been appropriated by Russia. However, according to Savelyev, attempts have so far been unsuccessful.  

“We are not losing our hopes, but we are also not giving them [the aircraft – AeroTime] away. Because to give them away is to lose our aviation,” Savelyev said during a Committee on Economic Policy of the Russian Federation Council meeting.  

Most aircraft operated by Russian airlines are leased. Following the sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian airlines were forbidden from returning aircraft to foreign lessors. 

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According to Savelyev, before the sanctions, Russian airlines owned 1,267 aircraft, with just 193 registered in Russia: 148 Sukhoi SSJ-100, one Tupolev Tu-204, and 44 aircraft manufactured by Airbus and Boeing. 

78 of the leased aircraft were seized following flights abroad, Savelyev revealed. Therefore, all foreign flights are currently being conducted on Russian-made or owned aircraft. 

Almost 800 of the remaining aircraft have already been re-registered in Russia and insured by Russian companies, even though they are technically still owned by foreign companies.  

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Those aircraft are being used to conduct domestic flights, Savelyev said, and will remain operational for several months. However, due to the lack of spare parts, further operation is going to prove difficult. 

“As a basis [of a model to follow] we took Iran. Iran is under sanctions since 1995. They have 15 aviation companies, they repair and maintain them [the aircraft – AeroTime]. They fly to us twice a week from Teheran. And in 2020 they managed to buy 22 Airbus aircraft. This is why they became a basis for us – an example that even under sanctions one can look for solutions,” Savelyev said. 

Despite UN sanctions prohibiting the sale of aircraft to Iran, the country has successfully purchased several second-hand aircraft since 1995.  

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