(Posted 02nd March 2023)
A recent bomb threat (25th February) against Russian carrier Aeroflot, while at the international airport on Mahe, brought additional aspects and questions to the forefront, given the massive sanctions against Russia as a result of their war of aggression against the Ukraine.
Key questions must be asked over the air worthiness of the aircraft used and the continued display of the SkyTeam logo on the aircraft.
It was learned that SkyTeam has suspended the Aeroflot membership in the airline alliance – stopping short of throwing them out completely as should have been done when sanctions were put into effect – but the display of the logo is now a matter of dispute. Is Aeroflot still allowed to display it by SkyTeam or must the airline remove it from the side of their aircraft. Airline pundits are of the opinion that the logo must be removed from all Aeroflot aircraft until Russia has stopped their war of aggression and sanctions have been lifted and the airline been readmitted to the alliance.
Secondly have doubts emerged over the continued air worthiness of any western aircraft operated by Aeroflot as the airline no longer has access to approved spares for Boeing and Airbus aircraft as well as other key components and services now subject to sanctions and no longer available to Russian airlines. While the airline may vandalise one of the aircraft types to obtain spares, the same is not the case for other service elements, which require direct input from manufacturer or Western subcontractors. That of course has an impact on the continued airworthiness of aircraft under Russian registration and any destination where Russian carriers still fly to ought to carry out detailed ramp checks to ascertain that the aircraft in question is actually still airworthy.
Another question focuses on the Russian government initiated grand theft of leased aircraft, most of which were supplied by Western aircraft leasing companies and one must ask why such aircraft can still operate to international destinations without being impounded upon landing and returned to the lessors.
Aeroflot resumed flights to the Seychelles in October last year and it is understood that the route flown appears to avoid and evade air spaces closed to Russian carriers, but this is extending flying time to 12 hours from the previous 9 hours and 40 minutes.
While sanctions in place are not per se against the Russian people but against their government, companies and so called oligarchs, truth told, the Russian people must realise that there is no way out of sanctions for them, be it for now absent consumer goods in the shelves, lack of access to international services or even travel to exotic destinations.
These doors must be and remain firmly shut until the war of aggression against the Ukraine stops, all still occupied Ukrainian territory has been liberated and returned to the control of the Ukrainian government and war reparations been paid.