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Bermuda suspends licenses of hundreds of Russian planes

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Bermuda has announced it is suspending certification of Russian planes allowed in the British Overseas Territory due to sanctions imposed on Moscow, likely affecting hundreds of Russian commercial planes around the world.

This decision could have critical effects, including the grounding of a significant part of the Russian fleet, of which more than 700 would be licensed in Bermuda.

“International sanctions against the aviation industry have had a significant impact on the ability to maintain safety oversight of Russian-operated aircraft on Bermuda’s aircraft registry,” the Authority said on Saturday. Bermuda Civil Aviation (BCAA) in a statement.

The system has been limited to such a degree that the BCAA “is unable to confidently approve these aircraft as airworthy,” the agency said.

At the end of March 12, “the BCAA temporarily suspended all certificates of airworthiness for aircraft operated under the Section 83bis agreement between Bermuda and the Russian Federation,” he said.

The announcement is the latest blow to Russia’s commercial airline sector already reeling from punitive measures following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian carrier Aeroflot has been banned from the airspace of the entire EU, UK and Canada, forcing it to suspend flights to those destinations, while US aviation giant Boeing suspended its support for Russian airlines and its operations in Moscow.

Aviation industry experts told AFP on Sunday that BCAA’s decision jeopardized Russia’s ability to operate these planes.

Following the license suspension, “the aviation authorities … will almost certainly say ‘We don’t want your planes,'” said Michel Merluzeau, aerospace market analyst at AIR, although he added that Russian authorities might say that if proper maintenance is done, they can still fly in Russia.

But with sanctions prohibiting manufacturers Airbus and Boeing from selling spare parts and offering maintenance, operating the plane without this much-needed assistance “cannot last long”, added Merluzeau.

Earlier, Bermuda’s government said there were more than 900 aircraft registered in the tiny territory, considered a tax haven.

A “significant amount” of these planes are used by Russian commercial airline operators, according to BCAA.

Late last month, a British MP, Liz Saville-Roberts, told parliament about the need to effectively enforce sanctions against Russia’s civilian aircraft fleet, saying 713 leased Russian planes were registered in Bermuda.