September 21, 2023

Stop My Flight If You Can


Stop My Flight If You Can
Airbus A320-214 Amsterdam schiphol EHAM (17-02-2007)
Pieter van Marion, Wikimedia 
Commons

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the West has banned Russia's import of aircraft and spare parts. This move carried significant consequences, since the majority of Russia’s airline fleet consists of foreign aircraft that would become dangerous to fly if not properly maintained.

Nevertheless, sanctions have not deterred Russian companies from procuring spare parts for aircraft through third countries. According to an investigation by Vazhnyie Istorii, between March 2022 and March 2023, Russia imported spare parts for Boeing and Airbus aircraft valued at R18 billion ($185 million) or more. Leading the list of third-party suppliers were companies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, and Turkey.

Some of the foreign companies have close ties to Russia. For instance, the beneficiaries of the UAE-based Griffon company, Irina Gorokhovskaya and Ilya Rysev, both have ties to Russia. They are graduates of the All-Russian Academy of Foreign Trade and have established two companies in Russia, Simplex and Ameritech, specializing in the supply of aircraft parts.

In addition to suppliers from the UAE, China, and Turkey, certain European Union companies are still engaged with Russia, albeit indirectly, through the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nations. One notable example is Lithuania’s Right Direction Aero, which sold spare parts for Boeings to the Kyrgyz company Cargoline and subsequently to the Russian I Fly. Intriguingly, Cargoline was registered just a month after the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, when Airbus, Boeing, and other Western manufacturers imposed sanctions on Russian airlines.

Journalists from Vazhnyie Istorii contacted the head of the Lithuanian company, who assured them of his strong aversion to the Putin regime and Russian aggression. He claimed not to engage in dealings with Russia and asserted that he diligently scrutinizes his clients for any connections to Russia.

Another EU company that continues to supply aircraft parts to Russia is Apram Aerospace. The owners and managers of this company did not respond to information requests from journalists.

Despite some success in procuring sanctioned components, the Russian civil aviation sector is struggling. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the number of aviation accidents in Russia has increased. In certain instances, pilots have had to make emergency landings.

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