The Weaponising of
Operating Leases — April 2022

In the economic war between Russia and the West leased aircraft have been weaponised. The fall-out is widespread and complex. Sanctions imposed on Russia effectively terminated the leases of about 500 Western aircraft operated by the Aeroflot Group or independent Russian airlines (S7, Utair, Ural Airways and Nordwind). It is estimated that about 80 of these have been repossessed or were stored outside Russia at the time of the invasion.

The value of the Russian-leased fleet is estimated to be in the region of $11.5bn. The cost of this particular sanction is estimated to be between $5bn and $15bn, the lower figure assuming recovery of more aircraft from Russia and rapid resolution of legal issues, the higher figure including loss of rentals by the lessors while they continue to make finance payments on their lost aircraft (which might explain why AerCap is putting its Russian losses at $3.5bn while the value of the relevant aircraft would be around $2.5bn). The question is: who bears the cost?

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