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Russian airline isolation grows as jetmakers halt parts supply -Breaking

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© Reuters. After the announcement that the 777X will fly its first flight in Everett on January 21st 2020, a Boeing logo can be seen in the company’s Everett facility. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/Files

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Jamie Freed. David Shepardson. Tim Hepher.

(Reuters) – Planemakers Boeing (NYSE) and Airbus stopped supporting Russian airlines and ceased supply. This is due to the ripple effect of the sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the United States stated that it would join Canada and the European Union in banning Russian flight from its airspace. It is likely that this move will trigger Russian retaliation.

Boeing stated that it has “suspended major operational activities” in Russia where it maintains research and engineering centers.

Airbus said that it will stop supplying parts and services for Russian airlines, but was still analyzing whether the Moscow-based engineering center could provide services to its local customers.

Russian aviation is now more isolated than ever as major powers talk about restoring a deal which lifted similar sanctions on Iran up until Washington pulled out in 2018.

Analysts believe that sanctions against Russia could have more consequences than the ones on Iran and North Korea due to its dependence on Western suppliers.

“With Western lessors also looking to repossess jets that are operated by Russian carriers, the Russian aviation sector is now on a footing that is similar to North Korea and Iran – and similar to where it was under Soviet rule,” wrote Vertical Research Partners analyst Rob Stallard.

Consultants IBA reported that Russia represented 6% of the airline capacity for 2021. This was an increase from 4% in 2019 due to Russia’s relative performance during the pandemic.

Cirium Fleets data shows that Russia has 332 Boeing jets and 304 Airbus planes in its national airlines. This makes it about half of Russia’s total fleet.

The speed at which they are deprived of their parts depends on the owner and what critical items airline hold.

Every six years, jetliners require constant monitoring. These include daily check-ups as well as heavy maintenance.

There are hundreds of thousands of components. Although more common problems may not need immediate grounding, provided that the problem is resolved within a reasonable time, certain parts are essential to allow a plane continue to fly.

Russian airlines may allow their planes to fly if they are able to stock enough parts. But, due the requirement that approved parts be used in repairs, these aircraft owners might not have the ability of getting their jets serviced in smaller areas.

Airlines may have payment problems even if parts are available outside of the country after certain Russian banks were excluded from SWIFT’s international payments system.

LIMITED PARTS

While many airlines reuse components from their aircrafts, some airlines are accused of letting go of leased planes.

Peter Walter, IBA director of technical asset and management, stated that parts are scarce so we can expect to see some aircraft on Russia’s ground being taken to make the remaining fleet functional.

Cirium estimates that Russia has 515 aircrafts under lease from foreign companies.

The deadline for lessors to terminate contracts under EU sanctions is March 28th, however industry executives are concerned about Russian airlines or courts complying.

Russia does have domestic repair facilities. However, carriers are open to negotiating deals with other businesses. Aeroflot, which signed a long-term deal with Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company last year (HAECO), did not respond when asked.

Lufthansa Technik stated that it stopped providing Russian customer service, an action which could affect hundreds of planes.

Russian issues in procuring spare parts might also have an impact on international airlines who still fly to Russia.

According to airline statements, tracking data and airline records, some Gulf airlines continue to fly to Russia.

Flydubai is a Russian airline that operates a fleet with 737s and flies to 8 cities.

Russian airlines won’t be allowed to purchase new planes from Western companies. According to IBA data, they have 62 aircraft on order from Boeing or Airbus, 25 Boeing 737 MAX planes.

Russia remains the largest country in which the 737 MAX is still not cleared, despite worldwide bans after fatal crashes.

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