The European Commission added 21 Russian airlines to the EU Air Safety List, banning them from operating within the European Union. The Commission said the move reflected “serious safety concerns” after Russian authorities re-registered foreign-owned aircraft without airworthiness certificates. 

The decision followed a meeting of aviation safety experts from the EU member states on April 5, 2022, who unanimously approved the decision. 

“The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has allowed Russian airlines to operate hundreds of foreign-owned aircraft without a valid Certificate of Airworthiness,” said Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean in a statement. “The Russian airlines concerned have knowingly done so in breach of relevant international safety standards. [...] However, I want to make it crystal-clear that this decision is not another sanction against Russia; it has been taken solely on the basis of technical and safety grounds. We do not mix safety with politics.” 

The list includes the three main Russian airlines, namely the flag carrier Aeroflot, Rossiya, and S7 Airlines. The fleets of Russia’s three largest airlines are comprised of Airbus and Boeing manufactured aircraft, many of which are leased, with a limited number of indigenous jets in the form of the Sukhoi Superjet and a handful of Soviet-era Tupolev airliners.  

Under EU sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU-based aircraft lessors had to end contracts with Russian operators. According to aviation consultancy firm IBA, Russian companies operate at least 589 aircraft affected by the sanctions, a fleet with an estimated worth of $10 billion. 

Many of those aircraft were registered in Bermuda, which suspended airworthiness certificates for Russian-operated aircraft on March 12, 2022. The update brings the total of air carriers banned from the European Union to 117 companies. 

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