LONDON – The Sri Lankan courts have lifted the ban on the detained Aeroflot Airbus A330 days after the aircraft was grounded in Colombo.
Officials have said that the aircraft is able to leave the country, rather than waiting until June 16 for the court case with Selective Aviation, a body of GECAS, one of the lessors.
It is also understood that this is a result of political pressure from Russia, with the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Moscow being summoned to the Kremlin for an explanation, according to local media.
What Actually Happened?
On June 3, an Aeroflot Airbus A330 was grounded in Colombo, Sri Lanka following an arrest warrant being issued for the aircraft.
Such nationalization of aircraft took place through the re-registering of aircraft back to the Russian registry of RA.
Now, these aircraft are doing international flights, this does open up the potential for groundings to occur once again, meaning the lessors will actually be able to get their aircraft back.
The hearing for the release of the aircraft is due to take place on June 8, which is around five days away, where an appeal by Aeroflot is expected to be lodged.
RA-73702 was the particular aircraft affected by this grounding, which is one of Aeroflot’s Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
The airframe was delivered back in April 2012 under the Bermudan registration of VQ-BMY, which is the typical registry for such leased aircraft.
VQ-BMY was re-registered into its current form back in April this year, as the Ukraine Crisis continued to worsen as sanctions kept hitting Russia.
Data provided by RadarBox.com shows that RA-73702’s last flight was from Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport and commenced a nine-hour and eight-minute flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
SU288 departed Moscow at 2331 local time, before arriving in Colombo at 1110 local time the next day.
Unknown Departure Time… A Win for Russia?
It is unclear when the aircraft will depart back to Moscow. The data above from RadarBox.com hasn’t been updated since the jet landed in Colombo on June 2.
With the Sri Lankan authorities lifting the grounding measure on the aircraft, this could be seen as a win for Aeroflot and the Russian Government.
This is down to the fact that the expectation was GECAS would have got that aircraft back, as VQ-BMY wasn’t one of the 8 Airbus aircraft that the Russian carrier purchased back.
It also means that such a policy of nationalization of those aircraft will continue and that sanctions imposed won’t be affected on this jet.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see whether this has set a precedent for future aircraft and whether the same issues could happen again, irrespective of nationalization or theft.
But for now, Aeroflot walks away with a tiny victory and will have that aircraft back in their skies soon.
This is a developing story.