First came the closure of western airspace for Russian carriers, following Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Now, Aeroflot, Pobeda, and other RU-registered airlines are hit even harder by Washington’s administration: it has prohibited all technical or operational support for 100 aircraft built by Boeing or Airbus, flying for Russian airlines. Among them is almost the entire fleet of freight carrier, AirBridgeCargo.
The decree of the U.S. Commerce Department (DOC), published last Friday (18MAR22), by its Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), leaves no room for speculation. It reads: “providing any form
of service to the aircraft identified [in the list, HS], requires authorization. Absent such authorization, any person anywhere — including within Russia — risks violating the Export
Administration Regulations (EAR), and would be subject to BIS enforcement actions.”
What consequences this entails is also stated in the announcement: “[…] substantial jail time, fines, loss of export privileges, or other restrictions.”
No update of electronic manuals, is like flying blind
“Commitment to the rule of law is one of the democratic principles that we and our allies and partners stand for as we stand with the people of Ukraine,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement, Matthew S. Axelrod. [DOC’s action] “lets Vladimir Putin’s enablers know that, as a consequence of their actions, they have fewer places to hide and fewer ways to get there.”
Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves added to this: “We are working with our allies and partners to ensure that Russia and Belarus understand that our actions aren’t idle words or dead letters on the page. They have real teeth and, as Putin’s vicious war continues, they will continue to bite harder on the Russian and Belarusian economies.”
First aircraft listed on the decree is Oligarch Roman Abramovitch’s Gulfstream G650ER. This is followed by 33 Aeroflot jets, including mainly B777 passenger aircraft alongside B737s.
From position 35 onwards, these 12 freighters operated by ABC are displayed on DOC’s toxic document:
AirBridgeCargo VQ-BGZ 37580 747-8HV(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VQ-BVR 60687 747-8HV(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VQ-BLR 37668 747-8HV(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VQ-BRH 37669 747-8HV(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VQ-BRJ 37670 747-8HV(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VP-BIN 60119 747-83Q(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VQ-BFU 60117 747-83Q(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VQ-BLQ 37581 747-8HV(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VP-BBL 63378 747-97U(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VP-BIG 35420 747-46NF(ER) (B744)
AirBridgeCargo VP-BBY 63781 747-83Q(F) (B748)
AirBridgeCargo VP-BJS 63787 747-8F (B748)
There are 7 missing, as the group’s fleet includes a total of 18 jumbo freighters and a single B777F. Two of them belong to London-based affiliate, CargoLogic Airlines (UK), that was grounded by the authorities last week.
In addition, three V-D operated large AN-124s stranded at Leipzig-Halle Airport (LEJ), where they were undergoing maintenance and overhaul work, and could not be flown out in time, prior to Putin’s war in Ukraine. As long as European airspace remains closed to Russian aircraft, they are unable to leave LEJ.
Aeroflot pulls out of EU
Meanwhile, state-owned Aeroflot has decided to close all stations in the EU. This affects Aeroflot Cargo as well, whose European HQ is based at Hahn Airport.
As further revealed over the weekend, the Sukhoi-built Superjet 100 will not get European certification. The responsible aviation authority EASA has issued the order.
Also, the Russian cargo airline SkyGates Airlines was forced to terminate its operations. Its two leased B747-8F were returned to their owner, the Azeri carrier Silk Way West Airlines. Meanwhile, the Russian registration displayed on the hull of the two freighters have been replaced by the national code of Azerbaijan. Formerly, SkyGates Airlines, an affiliate of Azeri Silk Way West Airlines, had leased the two Jumbo freighters from its Baku-headquartered parent company.
Since SkyGates Airlines does not operate any other aircraft, it can be expected that it will cease to exist. The company could not be reached for comment.
Statement Silk Way West Airlines:
This note was sent to us by the Azeri carrier concerning the two Jumbo freighters and their relation of the company to Moscow-based SkyGates Airlines. Quote: "The aircraft 4K-BCI and 4K-BCH were acquired by Silk Way West Airlines from Boeing Capital Corporation and have since been owned by Silk Way West Airlines LLC (SWWA). Both aircraft were only leased by SWWA to Sky Gates Airlines LLC and were thus never owned by Russian companies or private individuals.
In view of the current political situation and the associated sanctions, SWWA as owner has terminated the sub-lease contract with Sky Gates Airlines LLC as of 24 February 2022 and has taken over the aircraft with the above mentioned registration into its own fleet."
The clarification makes it clear that the aircraft are not subject to the sanctions regime against Russian airlines and aircraft.
As result of the swop, Silk Way West's Boeing fleet will grow from 5 to 7 B747-8 freighters.
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