Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot has begun stripping its passenger planes after Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine stripped it of the foreign equipment and maintenance it depends on strongly, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing four unnamed aviation industry sources.
The Russian aviation industry’s strategy for 2030 envisages the “partial dismantling” of part of the aircraft manufactured abroad in order to keep two-thirds of the country’s fleet airworthy until 2025.
At least one near-new Airbus A350 and the Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 are grounded and being dismantled, Reuters quoted a source as saying.
The outfitting of some Aeroflot Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s is also taken to keep other planes airworthy.
These are the first detailed examples of what aviation experts predict will be the cannibalization of Russian-based planes as the impact of Western sanctions becomes more apparent.
International flight bans imposed on Russian airlines in retaliation for the war in Ukraine also mean jets on the ground can be stripped for parts, Reuters said citing a second source.
At least 50 of Aeroflot’s 360 jetliners have not taken off since July, according to Reuters calculations based on flight data.
Aeroflot recorded a 22% drop in traffic in April-June compared to the same period last year.
The risk of secondary sanctions should discourage companies from Asian and Middle Eastern countries that have not imposed sanctions on Russia from supplying the necessary aircraft equipment.
“Each piece has its own [unique] number and if the documents will have a Russian airline as the end buyer, then no one will agree to supply, neither China nor Dubai,” a source quoted by Reuters said.