Russia Seized 10 Times More Airliners Than It Lost To Sanctions


Russia’s Transport Minister has come out with what he says is the final tally of aircraft lost and gained when sanctions from the Ukraine invasion were imposed and it would appear the country made out like bandits. Vitaly Savelyev told Russian media outlet RBC (and translated by Business Insider) that 76 Russian-registered aircraft were stranded outside the country when most countries closed their airspace to them almost two years ago. By contrast, Russia effectively seized more than 800 aircraft owned by Western leasing companies and put them on its own registry.

Savelyev suggested Russia was the aggrieved party in the whole affair. “We were unexpectedly taken by surprise by the decision to take away the planes,” Business Insider quoted Savelyev as saying. The aircraft were outside the country for maintenance, storage or on flights. An An-124 owned by Volga Dnepr is caught up in a diplomatic snarl in Toronto. It was supposed to be donated to Ukraine, but the cargo company has since sued the Canadian government alleging the seizure of the plane violates a trade treaty between the two countries.

Savelyev says the country has 1,302 commercial aircraft, 1,167 of them airliners. Many of those are in a state of questionable airworthiness, however, since the sanctions have virtually stopped the flow of parts needed to maintain the aircraft. Savelyev said Russia has actually offered to buy some of the seized planes from the leasing companies but to no avail. “There is a ban and a demand for return; they do not want to enter into negotiations on compensation for their payment and the purchase of ships from them,” Savelyev said. Sending the planes back is out of the question, he added, because doing so “means leaving itself without aviation.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Very shortsighted on Russia’s part. Those leasing companies will remember this and hold a grudge because of it.

  2. Very shortsighted on the part of the West also. The loss of 800 aircraft by leasing companies is not good for business. It could have a “trickle-down” effect all through the industry being the majority of new aircraft deliveries are leased. Just where do the lessors find the cash to replace them? Likely the taxpayers in some form or another. Leave it to the politicians to screw things up by shooting from the hip for a cause we should have no business sticking our noses into. Most seem to think sticking it to the Russians has no effect on us. It does.

  3. This is standard Russian propaganda. They are always whining that the world hates them and is being mean to them. Meanwhile they continue to lie and steal whatever they can lay their hands on. It is unfortunate that most of the west’s sanctions affect the Russian people, while Putin and his billionaire oligarch buddies conduct business as usual.

  4. Yeah, I’m sure russia didn’t do silly things, like use the new value for those planes instead of currently appraised values🙄, nor fail to account for loss of revenue by their airline industry.