EU worried about 'severe' impact of Russian sanctions on aviation
The European Parliament is seeking a non-binding resolution to raise awareness regarding issues facing EU aviation in light of the sanctions imposed on Russia.
The European Parliament has signed into effect a non-binding resolution to raise awareness about the many hardships that have affected the already hard-hit European Union's aviation industry as the European Commission considers imposing tougher sanctions on Moscow in light of the Ukraine crisis.
A draft motion for a resolution filed in the Strasbourg-based parliament said it was concerned by the "severe impact that the conflict [in Ukraine] is having on the aviation sector when it comes to operating costs," which have hiked the cost of passenger and freight aviation.
Brussels had already banned Russian aircraft from flying in its air space in February, which led Moscow to retaliate. According to the parliament, sanctions and air bans came together to suspend the EU airlines' flights or cause them to reroute their flights, which rendered them longer and more expensive.
Europe affected by sanctions
The maximum necessary route extensions for aircraft to avoid Russian and Belarusian airspace, the document said, "varies between three and four hours each way leading to refueling issues, and longer crew working hours than those provided for EU regulation."
The surging price of fuel and decreasing demand has been driving the increase of operating costs since last year. Russia and Europe mutually closing their airspace to each other and the limitations imposed on flights in Ukraine's airspace have severely impacted EU air passenger traffic, slashing it by 9%.
Russia and Belarus, in addition to constituting pivotal routes for air traffic, account for a major share of the global titanium production, a key metal in aircraft manufacturing, which could pose threats to supply in the near term.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also taken a toll on European aviation, prompting the European parliament to call on the commission to map out support for European airlines to mitigate the burden of the crisis and the sanctions on Russia as it mulls fresh restrictions on the Russian transport industry.
Legislators in Brussels have also put Russia under fire for approving a law that requires the re-registration of hundreds of aircraft leased from foreign firms, saying they should be returned to their "lawful owners" and that putting them in operation without proper examination would put lives at risk.
Iran's experience in circumventing sanctions
Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev had said Moscow was being guided by Iran's experience of how to service aircraft under sanctions, i.e., circumventing sanctions to overcome challenges on the purchase of spare parts for aviation.
Iran's long experience with sanctions comes after the United States imposed harsh sanctions on the country after Washington withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, under then-President Donald Trump, citing "lack of compliance," despite the US completely abandoning its commitments.
Russian air transport regulator Rosaviatsia had argued that adding leased planes to the federal aircraft register was in line with international civil aviation rules stipulated in the Chicago Convention and would have no impact on air safety.
"Aircraft lease should be subject to the existing commercial contracts. The European Parliament should contribute to the implementation of contracts on the lease of airplanes by Russian airlines instead of supporting illegal sanctions that are in breach of international laws and the Chicago Convention," it said.
Russian aircraft could be impounded
The Russian Transport Ministry cautioned Russian airlines against flying internationally, saying their air fleet could be impounded. Estimations suggest that 1,140 planes leased from foreign companies had been re-registered in Russia as of April 25.
The slew of sanctions on Russia comes in light of the war in Ukraine, with various states closing off their airspace to Moscow, prompting the Kremlin to retaliate.
In the follow-up to the war, the US and its allies rolled out comprehensive sanctions, including restrictions on the Russian Central Bank, export control measures, SWIFT cutoffs for select banks, and closure of airspace to all Russian flights. Many of their companies have suspended their Russian operations.
Russia's Federal Agency for Air Transport said the restrictions affected flights from and to 36 countries.
The sanctions also ended the supply of aircraft, parts, and services to Russia, and the country has some 515 airliners leased from other states.