Manhattan, US District Judge Lewis Linman has awarded aircraft lessor BOC Aviation Limited (BOC Aviation) the sum of US$406.2 million in relation to three leases that Russia’s largest cargo carrier, AirBridgeCargo Airlines (AirBridgeCargo) and its parent company Volga-Dnepr Logistics BV has defaulted on following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, according to REUTERS news agency. The planes in question are Boeing 747 8Fs.
This is one of many cases where aircraft lessors have been forced to sue insurers and lessees for billions of dollars as a consequence of the many hundreds of aircraft that have remained stuck in Russia since the start of its ‘special military operation’ in February 2022. BOC Aviation said AirBridgeCargo went into default when it became unable to maintain required reinsurance coverage. This followed on as a direct consequence of the restrictions imposed by the European Union against Russian carriers on aircraft used in Russia, and Russian sanctions on foreign assets, including internationally leased aircraft.
However, BOC Aviation has confirmed that it successfully retrieved one plane that was on lease, together with two engines, though two other planes and two engines remained in Russia. In the 57-page decision, Judge Liman stated that BOC Aviation had proven that the Russian government had “effected a seizure” of the planes and engines by keeping them from being used outside Russia, “save perhaps to areas in Ukraine or for the purposes of the war.” The judge also stated that undermined BOC Aviation’s right to reclaim possession. He also rejected AirBridgeCargo’s defences that neither side could have foreseen a default, and it had not been possible to ground the planes outside Russia as the country had ordered them flown back.