14:39 GMT04 August 2020
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    Anti-Russian sanctions are now backfiring from the standpoint of the western aerospace industry, as Russia is returning the jets it has primarily leased from Boeing and Airbus, and cancelling its orders for a new fleet.

    The number of Boeing and Airbus planes deployed by Russian airlines has declined by 11 aircraft between August and April 1, according to Russian Federal Aviation Authority spokesman Sergey Izvolskiy.

    The number of Boeings in Russia's passenger jet fleet has faced a net decline of 10 aircraft and now stands at 332, while the number of Airbus jetliners has declined by one to 281.

    The shrinking came for the first time in 15 years, after the combined fleet of foreign models had climbed more than 10-fold in two decades.

    Among the key reasons which caused the decrease was late 2014's precipitous 50 percent drop in the value of the ruble, caused by the western sanctions and the slump in the worth of oil exports, according to Bloomberg.

    For many Russians, flying is now too costly: the Federal Air Transportation Service says the number of passengers fell 2.3 percent to 17 million in the first quarter, the first decline since 2009.

    The declines reflect the return of leased jets, Bloomberg quotes Alexey Sinitsky, editor-in-chief of Aviatransportnoye Obozreniye magazine as saying. Leased aircraft tend to be older and less fuel efficient and are also easier to get rid of when a quick capacity adjustment is required.

    “I would expect to see Russian airlines returning older aircraft that roll off lease,” says Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson.

    He predicts that Boeing and Airbus will be “pulling out the stops” to hang on to outstanding orders, while Russian carriers could seek sale-leaseback deals on jetliners due for delivery to boost cash flow while still getting the planes.

    Fabrice Bregier, the chief executive officer of Airbus’s plane-making unit, said in a briefing on April 17 that the Toulouse-based company is already in discussions with carriers seeking to defer taking aircraft they’ve previously ordered.

    If smaller regional aircraft such as those made by Bombardier Inc. and Avions de Transport Regional, or ATR are included, Russian airlines have already cut their foreign fleets by about 100 planes, according to Oleg Panteleyev at the website Aviaport.ru.


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    aircraft industry, anti-Russian sanctions, Airbus, The Boeing Co
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