Russian airlines face pariah status as aircraft makers freeze parts


  • Manufacturers, rental companies and repairers apply penalties
  • Russia accounted for 6% of global air capacity in 2021 -IBA
  • Aircraft lessors must liquidate their contracts by March 28

March 2 (Reuters) – Russian aviation went into isolation on Wednesday as Boeing (BA.N) and Airbus (AIR.PA) halted component supplies and analysts predicted carriers could strip components. aircraft parked for parts or be tempted to explore alternate sources to continue flying.

Flagship Aeroflot and other carriers have faced Western repression as the effects of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ripple through the global aviation sector. Read more

The United States said Tuesday night that it would follow the European Union and Canada in banning Russian flights, which risks triggering Russian retaliation. Read more

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Boeing said it had “suspended major operations” in Russia, where it also has research and engineering centers.

Airbus said it was interrupting the supply of parts and services to Russian airlines, but was also examining whether its engineering center in Moscow could continue to provide services to local customers. He did not specify what type of work this might entail.

The bans come just as major powers are discussing reviving a deal that lifted similar sanctions on Iran, until Washington pulled out in 2018.

Sanctions against Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”, will have greater consequences than those against Iran or North Korea, given the size of its market.

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

Russia accounted for 6% of air capacity in 2021, according to consultants IBA.

Its airlines have a total of 332 Boeings and 304 Airbuses, about two-thirds of Russia’s fleet, according to data from Cirium Fleets.

How quickly these will be stripped of parts will depend on how many critical items the airlines hold.

The airliners are constantly monitored, ranging from daily checks to heavy maintenance every six years.

Although routine problems may not require immediate repairs provided the problem is resolved within a certain number of days, some parts are still essential when an aircraft departs.

Aircraft owned by Russian airlines can fly domestically as long as they have enough parts in stock, but carriers may struggle to service jets in declining parts of the world that still accept Russian planes, said maintenance experts.

Even where parts can be found outside the country, airlines face potential payment difficulties after some Russian banks were locked out of the SWIFT international payment system.

CANNIBALIZATION

Unlike the decaying Iranian airliners inherited from decades of US sanctions, Russia has an advanced fleet.

“He will have to create a full-fledged maintenance system for certain types of aircraft. But before that … he will have to cannibalize certain aircraft for use as spare parts,” said Oleg Panteleev, director of the Russian analysis agency. AviaPort.

“Cannibalisation will be possible as the need for aircraft will decrease,” Panteleev said.

Many airlines reuse parts from their own planes, but there have been complaints in the past that struggling airlines elsewhere have removed parts from leased planes, which are banned.

Lessors have until March 28 to terminate contracts under EU sanctions, but industry leaders have expressed concern about compliance by Russian airlines and courts. Read more

Some 515 planes in Russia are leased to foreign companies, according to Cirium. There are no indications so far that Russian airlines have removed parts from leased planes without approval.

ALTERNATIVE SUPPLIES

Depending on the duration of the crisis, some experts predict that airlines could seek alternatives. Chinese parts are already used in some markets on older planes not serving the West, while Iran has honed an under-the-table supply system over decades.

“Of course, it would be good if Russia found suppliers and partners in third countries who would be ready to ensure stable shipments of all necessary components,” Panteleev said.

“But if these countries say they are afraid of sanctions, Russia should seek foreign specialists and create a maintenance system in Russian factories.”

However, using unofficial coins would put value rolls in a gray area and make them difficult to fund once the war is over. It’s something industry experts say Russian international carriers, with a young average fleet, would find it hard to avoid.

Maintenance contracts are also at risk.

Aeroflot last year signed a long-term agreement with Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO), which did not respond to a request for comment.

Lufthansa Technik (LHAG.DE) said it stopped serving Russian customers involving hundreds of planes.

Russian difficulties in the supply of spare parts could affect international airlines which still fly to Russia and sometimes need spare parts at destination.

Russian airlines will also be banned from taking new Western planes. They have 62 planes on order with Airbus or Boeing.

Russian Sukhoi meanwhile aims to equip its local regional Superjet with Russian engines by 2024.

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Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney, David Shepardson in Washington, Tim Hepher in Paris and Reuters in Moscow Additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell in Dubai and Ilona Wissenbach in Berlin Writing by Jamie Freed, Tim Hepher, Editing by Lincoln Feast, David Goodman and Josephine Mason

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