LONDON – According to Bloomberg, easyJet has exited lease agreements on six Airbus aircraft owned by a Russian leasing company, GTLK.
This comes in response to the United Kingdom and the EU placing sanctions on GTLK, which is state-owned.
It is understood that the six Airbus aircraft are A319s but were not in active operation.
Due to COVID-19, the six jets have been placed in storage since March 2020, as per information sourced from Cirium.
More a Matter of Principle Than A Damaging Effect on the Carrier…
Considering the easyJet Group has around 319 aircraft in its fleet of subsidiaries, removing six aircraft isn’t that much of an issue operationally.
Transfer between subsidiaries can always happen, and with easyJet still due aircraft as well, the six can be easily replaced.
If anything, the decision was probably more a matter of principle and following the law rather than it having a damaging effect on the carrier.
It reinforces the political strength that the West has been giving in recent weeks in the wake of sanctions.
Will These Aircraft Head Back to Russia?
At this stage, it is unclear whether these aircraft will have to remain where they are stored, especially due to the current battle Western lessors are having on insurance claims.
For example, AerCap filed a $3.5bn insurance claim on March 30 for aircraft stuck or stolen in Russia, as well as Air Lease Corporation had to write off over $800m worth of assets too.
Another example, in terms of storage, comes from Canada where authorities over there seized a Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124 in Toronto back in early March.
So if Russia is seizing aircraft through nationalization, then the West will definitely keep their assets on the ground and will not move them until the crisis subsides.
Will We See More of this Tit-For-Tat?
It is becoming clearer that we will see more responsive action from both sides, particularly on the aviation front.
News will more than likely follow in the months ahead surrounding Russian lessors having to ax deals with Western carriers and make efforts to try and get the aircraft back into their home countries.
This is also down to the fact that The Cape Town Convention is making no difference to President Putin, and will do anything he can to damage the West on a non-military basis.
Another example of tit-for-tat came from Boeing earlier this month, where it removed around 141 aircraft bound for Russian carriers, from its order book.
As Russian aviation begins its preparation for a sector without the Western world, news like what has come from easyJet this week will become a normal occurrence.
If Russia can be dependent on its own regarding aircraft production, then it doesn’t have to engage with the West on that front.
And that is exactly what Putin is using Ukraine for, although an unfortunate byproduct.
Further distancing themselves from the West, and making themselves more independent, will be something that won’t be easily achievable, but could be done.