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Russian aircraft switch from Bermuda registry would take years

A report that Russian authorities are pushing for that country’s carriers to re-register their aircraft domestically could impact Bermuda, where about 780 aircraft registered on the island are leased to Russian operators.

But the repatriation of Russian-operated aircraft to that country’s registry will “take years” to complete, the head of Bermuda’s aircraft registry said yesterday.

Thomas Dunstan, director general of the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority, said: “It will happen at some point that aircraft will go back to the Russian registry.”

But he added: “If it does happen, it won’t be everything overnight. There is no way another regulator can take on that many aircraft all at once.

“I think it will take years for them to transition over.”

Mr Dunstan was speaking after an article on aviation website Simple Flying detailed a push by Russian authorities to persuade carriers to re-register their aircraft domestically.

With a total of 865 aircraft registered in Bermuda, the island operates the tenth largest aircraft registry in the world.

Mr Dunstan said repatriation of Russian aircraft would “absolutely” have an impact on Bermuda’s registry.

But he cautioned: “I have been in civil aviation for 14 years, and ever since I joined, every year there has been a wave, a push, to move aircraft onto the Russian register.”

Mr Dunstan said Bermuda’s registry has a global reputation for operating to a “very, very high standard of regulation” that is aligned with UK standards as well as those of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

He said: “For the owners of aircraft, in this case leasing companies, the value of an aircraft is retained by having it registered with us.

“Aircraft owners know exactly what is happening with the aircraft, they know what maintenance work has been done on it because everything happens in English, which is the international language of aviation, so that it is very clear to anyone taking on the aircraft how it happened in terms of maintenance to the aircraft and any modifications made to it.”

Mr Dunstan said that leasing companies that own aircraft “prefer to have them registered outside Russia mainly because of the laws governing repatriation of aircraft should operators default on their leases”.

He added that lease agreements are predicated on where the aircraft is registered, so any desire by aircraft operators to repatriate to the Russian registry would require a re-negotiation of lease terms.

Mr Dunstan added that the Bermuda registry has taken steps to lessen the impact of any repatriation of aircraft to the Russian registry in the future.

He said: “What we have done over the last five or six years is diversify our aircraft registry.”

Thomas Dunstan, director-general of the BCAA (Photograph supplied)

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Published December 15, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 14, 2020 at 5:51 pm)

Russian aircraft switch from Bermuda registry would take years

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