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Bermuda suspends Russian aircraft airworthiness certificates

An Aeroflot aircraft: the Russian airline had registered more than 150 aircraft in Bermuda and Ireland (File photograph)

Bermuda-registered aircraft leased to Russian airlines have had their airworthiness certificates suspended as the invasion of Ukraine continues.

In an official statement, the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) said the conflict had made a “significant impact” on the ability to maintain safety oversight on Russian-operated planes on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry.

The BCAA added: “The airworthiness system has been restricted to the point that the BCAA is unable to confidently approve these aircraft as being airworthy.

“Therefore, as of 11.59pm on March 12, the BCAA has provisionally suspended all Certificates of Airworthiness of those aircraft operating under the Article 83bis Agreement between Bermuda and the Russian Federation.

“For any aircraft airborne at 11.59pm on March 12, the provisional suspension is effective immediately upon landing.”

David Burt, the Premier, said this month that of the about 900 aircraft on the Bermuda registry, about 740 were utilised by Russian operators — and that such aircraft would be “greatly impacted“ by sanctions.

The Premier said: “The majority of these aircraft are owned by leasing companies based in Ireland.

“The leasing companies require a jurisdiction with an unquestionable rule of law and a judicial system to enable collections in the event of default. And that is why Bermuda is their jurisdiction of choice.

“The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority is carefully reviewing sanctions in co-ordination with other stakeholders to ensure that they, and relevant entities with which it regulates, are in full compliance with the applicable sanctions while maintaining its safety and its oversight obligations.”

Russian airlines face looming European sanctions that include a ban on purchases of aircraft, spare parts or related equipment.

Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport told the House of Assembly that the BCAA could take a hit of $25 million over the next 12 months resulting from British measures put in place to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Scott said at a press conference just days later that the figure could be closer to $4 million.

He said: “The $25 million was in the worst-case scenario if all 85 per cent of our total air registry was grounded, and that is not what is happening.”

Fortune Magazine reported that the move is likely to accelerate decisions by leasing firms that have rented out Boeing Co. and Airbus SE jetliners to Aeroflot PJSC and other Russian airlines to cancel the contracts.

It said Irish lessors have until March 28 to do so under European Union sanctions tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia has already started moving planes to its local registry from Bermuda.

Foreign owners have leased out jetliners to Russian operators worth an estimated $10.3 billion, according to aviation consultant Ishka, Fortune said.

The article added: “Foreign lessors had 523 aircraft rented to Russian operators as of March 10, according to consultant IBA. Dublin-based AerCap Holdings NV, the world’s biggest leasing firm, had 142 of the total, followed by SMBC Aviation Capital with 35. Also based in Dublin, SMBC is part of the Japanese consortium of Sumitomo Corp. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.

“AerCap said in late February it will comply with EU sanctions. Its contracts in Russia have an estimated value of $2.5 billion, according to IBA. SMBC Aviation said it has has already terminated all its leases with Russian airlines.”

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Published March 14, 2022 at 8:13 am (Updated March 14, 2022 at 10:34 am)

Bermuda suspends Russian aircraft airworthiness certificates

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