The world stares in disbelief as Russia continues its onslaught on its neighbour and this has resulted in worldwide sanctions against the former Soviet Union.
According to analysts, with the sanctions in place, it is highly unlikely that Russian citizens would be flying to Europe or North America anytime soon or even flying to friendly countries such as China.
Russia will be the world’s largest country with a developed economy and an aviation industry no better than North Korea’s. Aviation sanctions are easy to enforce. Airlines can’t fly. They will have to completely redo their aircraft plans, which at the moment, are built on Western technology.Richard Aboulafia, managing director of Michigan-based AeroDynamic Advisory, told Al Jazeera
With the country ostracised from the rest of the world, how is it going to impact airline operations worldwide?
Rising fuel prices translating to increased airfares
With sanctions against Russian fuel supplies, one obvious outcome is higher fuel costs. Fuel being a critical factor in an airline’s overall expenditure, the rising prices at a time when they are just recovering from a multi-year slump, can deal a severe blow to fragile companies. Additionally, it will mean higher ticket prices for travellers and a further delay in profitability for airlines.
An extra hour of flight time and the fuel that would burn will add somewhere between €8,000 to €15,000 onto a journey. That would work out at around €100 per seat on a full planeestimates John Gradek, an aviation expert and lecturer at Canada’s McGill University.
Closed Russian airspace meaning aircraft now have to re-route or cancel flights
The UK and Russia have both barred flights from overflying their territory. American flights crossing over into Asia often use routes over the North Pole and then fly down over Russia into China, Japan, Singapore, and more. Additionally, Middle-Eastern airlines also use Russian airspace to fly to Asia and Australia.
Finland’s flag carrier, Finnair, has described itself as “the shortcut between Europe and Asia”. Given the current scenario, it will have to re-route a significant number of flights, considering its proximity to Russia. Finnair planes are still flying to Bangkok, Singapore, Phuket and Delhi but with an extra hour added to the overall flight time.
Russian planes can still fly to the Middle East, to Doha, or Kolkata, considering their ties with respective countries. Passengers would now need to board an Aeroflot flight – or Qatar, Emirates, or other airlines still allowed into Russia – before transferring at a transit airport outside of the country.
Flights could either be cancelled or re-routed to avoid the possibility of accidentally infringing into Russian airspace. The revised routes will definitely lead to more fuel consumption, increased crew time and possibly reduced passenger load and cargo due to the extra distance.
Flights from Europe to Asia that would normally pass over Ukraine and Russia have now been rerouted south to the airspace over Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.
Titanium supplies-a major requirement for aircraft and engine manufacture, could get hit
Titanium with its high strength to weight ratio is an ideal and critical component used in the manufacture of airframes and engines. Russia, being a significant exporter of titanium, a cut-off in this supply could spell disaster for existing production lines of aircraft and engine manufacturers.
Aircraft lessors in the West could have a tough time re-acquiring their assets
In response to the recent sanctions imposed, aircraft leasing firms around the world are set to terminate their standing leases with Russian airlines.
Russia has about 980 passenger jets in service, out of which 777 are leased, according to analytics firm Cirium. Out of the 777, about 515 jets are leased from foreign firms with an estimated market value of about $10 billion.
AerCap-an Irish based and the world’s largest aircraft leasing company saw its New York-listed shares tumble by as much as 12.7% after it announced it would cease leasing activity with Russian carriers.
Three out of every four passenger and cargo jets in Russian service today are from Boeing or Airbus, which supply more than 300 aircraft each.
Russia is a member of the Cape Town Convention (found in 2001)-designed to prevent an airline from absconding with an aircraft, although it is unclear as to how Russian courts would respond to a request to surrender the foreign assets.
The European Union has mandated all leasing companies to terminate their contracts with the Russians by the 28th of this month.
The absence of peace and stability can have a profound impact on global aviation, as is clearly evident and it would be safe to say that with the current Russia-Ukraine aggression, we have literally travelled 30 years back, in the wink of an eye.
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