Aeroflot, Russia’s State Airline, Says it Will Suspend International Flights

Russia’s state airline, Aeroflot, said on Saturday that it would suspend all international flights from Tuesday “due to additional circumstances that prevent the performance of flights.”

The cancellation will also apply to its subsidiaries Aurora and Rossiya, the airline said, though Aeroflot said it would continue to fly to Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

Russia had been enjoying a rare and robust aviation recovery as the only global market where domestic air traffic last year exceeded that of 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association, a global trade group. But the airline industry there has been hit hard in the last two weeks, as countries around the world have imposed flight bans and sanctions on Russia because of President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. mr. Putin and President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus are allies, and Russian forces have attacked Ukraine from Belarus.

Separately, Russia’s aviation authority, Rosaviatsiya, recommended on Saturday that Russian airlines with planes registered in foreign jurisdictions suspend all flights abroad from Sunday because of fears that they could be seized by foreign governments.

The suspension effectively leaves a handful of Western companies with no way of recovering hundreds of planes leased to Russian carriers. Recently sanctions gave those leasing companies until March 28 to end their contracts with airlines in Russia. With dozens of Western countries and Russia having issued reciprocal flight bans, the only hope those companies had for recovering their planes would have been to have Russian airlines deliver them to a neutral country, experts said. Saturday’s ban appeared to dash those hopes.

According to IBA, an aviation consulting firm, there are nearly 600 foreign-owned planes currently leased to airlines in Russia. Those planes are worth an estimated $12 billion, about a third of which belongs to Irish lessors, according to Ishka, another aviation consulting firm. AerCap, which is based in Dublin, is the most exposed, with an estimated 142 leased aircraft in Russia, according to IBA. The company is the world’s largest leasing company for commercial planes and its customers include Aeroflot and Rossiya.

Russian carriers could continue to use the leased planes in the weeks ahead, given the sanctions and obstacles to returning them. But sanctions could make it difficult for Russian airlines to use foreign-made aircraft inside the country for long because companies such as Boeing and Airbus suspended parts, maintenance and technical support services after the invasion. The airlines have some spare parts on hand, but experts questioned how long they will last. Most of the aircraft leased to Russian carriers are Boeing or Airbus planes.

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