Reuters: Due to sanctions, Russian airlines are dismantling planes for spare parts

Anna Kholodnova

Russian airlines, including state-owned Aeroflot, are dismantling planes to get spare parts they can no longer buy abroad because of Western sanctions.

Reuters writes about this with reference to sources.

In June, the Russian government recommended that airlines use some of the planes for spare parts so that the remaining foreign-made airliners can continue to fly until at least 2025.

Due to the sanctions imposed on Russia after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, airlines from the Russian Federation can no longer receive spare parts or undergo maintenance on their foreign aircraft — which is the majority of Russiaʼs aircraft fleet. As of the end of 2021, almost 80% of Aeroflotʼs fleet consisted of Boeing and Airbus, 134 and 146, respectively. And also about 80 Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet-100 aircraft.

A source familiar with the matter told reporters that at least one Russian Sukhoi Superjet-100 and an Airbus A350 operated by Aeroflot are currently grounded and being disassembled. They add that the Airbus A350 is almost new.

According to Reuters sources, equipment was also taken from several Aeroflot Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, as the company needs additional spare parts for other aircraft of these models.

Sukhoi Superjet aircraft assembled in Russia are also heavily dependent on foreign spare parts. The source said that one of them had already had its engine removed so that the other Superjet could continue flying.

A representative of the aviation industry told reporters that the dismantling of Russian planes would be "only a matter of time." After all, the newer generations of jet aircraft — the A320neo, A350, and Boeing 737 MAX and 787 — have technology that needs to be constantly updated.

Western sources said it would be difficult for Russia to use modern jets within a year of sanctions, despite its highly developed engineering base.

Based on data from Flightradar24, Reuters estimated that about 50 Aeroflot planes — 15% of its fleet, including jets under sanctions — have not taken off since the end of July.

Also, three out of seven Airbus A350s operated by Aeroflot, including the one that was dismantled for spare parts, did not take off for about three months.

An aviation industry source also said that because of the sanctions, Russian carriers are flying fewer routes, which means that the Russians are left with planes that they can still dismantle.

  • After the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine, the European Union closed the sky for Russian planes, banned the supply of spare parts for them, maintenance, support, and insurance, and also obliged leasing companies to return the planes that were leased from Russian carriers. The USA also imposed sanctions on the aviation sector of the Russian Federation.
  • In July, it became known that Russian airlines refuse to return 435 aircraft and aircraft spare parts that they leased from foreign companies. These planes are worth billions of dollars, so leasing companies have already filed $10 billion worth of insurance claims.
  • Iran and Russia have signed an agreement under which the Iranian side will repair Russian civilian aircraft and supply components for them. The agreement was signed during the visit of the Deputy Minister of Transport of Russia. It probably happened on July 19, when Putin visited Tehran to meet with President Ibrahim Raisi, the countryʼs Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and Turkish President Recep Erdogan.