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China Closes Airspace to Russian-Owned Aircraft, but Only to Stolen Planes

The world is getting smaller for Russia: in the latest blow to Russian aviation, China has closed its airspace to Russian-flagged aircraft that can’t provide updated documentation on registration and ownership. That’s more than half the current Russian aircraft fleet.
Russian aviation industry takes another hit as China closes its airspace to Russian-owned aircraft whose legal status can't be confirmed 6 photos
Russian aircraft are forbidden to enter U.S. airspaceRussian aircraft are forbidden to enter U.S. airspaceRussian aircraft are forbidden to enter U.S. airspaceRussian aircraft are forbidden to enter U.S. airspaceRussian aircraft are forbidden to enter U.S. airspace
In March this year, in response to then-launched sanctions that prompted Airbus and Boeing to stop offering parts and maintenance in Russia, and European lessors to ask for their airplanes back, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law that said Russia could keep all those planes they had on lease. A rough estimate noted that this meant over 100 planes worth more than $10 billion, which Russia practically “stole” by refusing to return them when asked to. The number of Western-sourced aircraft could be as high as 700, more than half the current Russian fleet.

A short while later, Russia changed its aviation rules to remove various safety regulations related to maintenance and certification – a must, considering it no longer benefited from service and maintenance from the makers, Boeing and Airbus. It also instantly re-registered all those airplanes so that they were now Russian.

All those airplanes are now banned from Chinese airspace. The infamously neutral (*but technically obviously partial) China is now requesting all airlines to provide updated electronic dossiers and portfolios to include details about the aircraft, owners of airlines, and ground handling contracts, Airways Magazine reports.

While this applies to all airlines without discrimination, it impacts Russian-owned ones the hardest because they’re flying stolen aircraft for which they can’t provide said documentation. As per the publication, Russian airlines would have to prove that their aircraft are not registered in other countries, and they can’t do that – because the planes are still registered to the European lessors, they stole them from.

Technically, China is banning Russian aircraft from its airspace, but the updated regulations “affect equipment whose legal status has not been confirmed following sanctions” and which have been re-registered in Russia, the outlet points out. In short, stole aircraft from European lessors, which Putin decided he could keep.


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