Russian Airlines Circumvent Western Sanctions, Import $171 Million in Aircraft Parts in 2023
Despite facing Western sanctions, Russian airlines have successfully imported 171 million dollars worth of aircraft parts for foreign aircraft in 2023, according to an investigation conducted by Nestka, a leading investigative publication.
Classified data obtained from customs statistics facilitated a real-time evaluation of Russian imports. The information reveals that four prominent Russian airlines – Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, Rossiya, and Pobeda – were responsible for the import of $110 million worth of Western aircraft components during the year.
In particular, Aeroflot reportedly imported American-manufactured spare parts worth $14.5 million, including those from Honeywell ($7.5 million), Woodward ($4.5 million), and Boeing ($2.5 million). French company Safran Nacelles also provided spare parts worth $4.5 million.
Moreover, Globus, a subsidiary of S7 Airlines, imported a turbojet engine for the Airbus A320 family aircraft from Franco-American company CFM International, worth $7.5 million. Simultaneously, Pobeda and Rossiya Airlines imported Honeywell spare parts valued at more than $3.5 million and $6 million, respectively.
The investigation identified the use of third-party countries, notably China and the United Arab Emirates, as an effective means to bypass the sanctions. Furthermore, a small company named Protector has reportedly imported at least $61 million in aircraft parts since 2023.
The imported components included six aircraft engines for Boeing 767, Boeing 737, and Airbus A320 aircraft from American and European manufacturers, facilitated by firms based in the United Arab Emirates and Thailand.
Triangulation is a common method used to evade sanctions. Iran frequently employs this strategy, procuring aircraft for its civil aviation sector despite enduring decades of restrictions.
Bizarre Plane Triangle: Avoiding Sanctions, Iran Gets Two Additional Airbus A340
Despite the sanctions imposed by the West significantly affecting Russian civil aviation, it appears Russian airlines have effectively resolved the crucial issue of spare part shortages, Nestka concludes. The research showed that parallel imports facilitate the import of essential parts, thereby circumventing European and American sanctions.
Civil aviation in Russia, one of the sectors hardest hit by the sanctions, continues to persevere. As a result of the sanctions, Russian airlines have lost foreign routes, leasing and maintenance capabilities, access to new foreign aircraft, and insurance instruments.
Last year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body, marked Russia with a “red flag” over potential flight safety issues. Only three other countries, Bhutan, Liberia, and Congo, share this designation.
However, through the utilization of parallel imports and third-party countries, Russian airlines have managed to circumvent sanctions and continue operating. Despite the considerable constraints, Russian planes are expected to maintain regular flight operations.
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ΔRussian airlines have successfully imported 171 million dollars worth of aircraft partsaccording to an investigation conducted by Nestkafour prominent Russian airlines – Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, Rossiya, and Pobeda –The investigation identified the use of third-party countries, notably China and the United Arab Emirates, as an effective means to bypass the sanctions.Protector Boeing 767, Boeing 737, and Airbus A320United Arab EmiratesThailand International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)Bhutan, Liberia, Congo