Hundreds of Irish owned aircraft in Russia could fly home within days, as sanctions against Moscow begin to bite.
The European Union and Britain have banned Russian aircraft from flying in their skies and many companies that have leased planes to Russian carriers are now demanding their property is returned:
“This could happen within days,” journalist Jason Corcoran told Breakfast Business with Joe Lynam.
“The ban could be applied to future contracts and existing contracts. So in the later case the carriers will have to return all aircraft to the leasing companies within 30 days.
“Another EU sanctions package is due to be made public on Friday. The situation is very fluid, so it could happen sooner.
“Last night I heard from one source, who works for a Russian carrier in Moscow, they had already received a demand to return 10 Boeing 737s passenger planes to Ireland.”
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Ireland is the aviation leasing capital of the world and the majority of planes used by Russian carriers are rented, not owned by them.
As such, if the carriers comply with their contracts, Russian travellers can expect many months, if not years, of travel chaos.
“They [the Russian airlines] could try to… defy this order,” Mr Corcoran continued.
“But they’re going to have to get parts, get servicing and once these contracts end with leasing companies, eventually they’ll want to be able to work with them again.
“Even though, leasing companies keep getting bitten in Russia when airlines go bankrupt.”
Mr Corcoran, who has worked reported extensively from Russia over the past 15 years, said he expected larger companies would be more likely to comply with the order than smaller, regional airlines:
“I think with some of the larger airlines, maybe there’ll be a level of compliance,” Mr Corcoran added.
“Because it would be commercial suicide if they were not to play ball.
“Some of the smaller, regional airlines might be a bit more gung ho.
“It’s really hard to say at the moment. It’s going to be very difficult to get some of these planes back.”