World’s largest leasing company battles insurers over aircraft stranded in Russia

4 October, 12:24 PM
Russian airlines have not returned more than a hundred aircraft to the lessor AerCap (Photo:Maxim Shemetov / Reuters)

Russian airlines have not returned more than a hundred aircraft to the lessor AerCap (Photo:Maxim Shemetov / Reuters)

The largest lessor in the global aviation market, AerCap Holdings, has filed a lawsuit against insurers demanding they pay $3.5 billion for leased aircraft stuck in Russia, the FinancialTimes reported on Oct. 3.

AerCap’s lawsuit states that after the EU imposed sanctions against Russia for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the leasing company announced the termination of its leases with Russian firms, and asked Russian airlines to return the aircraft.

Instead, the airlines simply re-registered the aircraft in Russia, and have continued to fly them. In total, Russian operators have effectively stolen 116 aircraft, and 23 spare aircraft engines, from AerCap alone.

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AerCap filed a lawsuit at the High Court of London against a group of U.S. insurers led by AIG and European companies led by Lloyd's.

AIG insured the lessor's aircraft against all risks, except for military risks, while Lloyd’s underwrote war-related risks, for total coverage of $3.48 billion – war risks along account for $1.22 billion.

At the same time, the insurers led by AIG insist that the actions of Russian airlines "were done for political purposes,” thus negating the need for a payout.

Lloyd's insists that even if the court decides that the confiscation was part of an event covered by their policies, they will only be liable if the planes are destroyed.

According to the FT, in the coming months, there is likely to be a "wave" of insurance claims for assets stuck in Russia.

In June, the Washington Post reported that Russian airlines have refused to return more than 400 leased aircraft in total.

In mid-April this year, the European Commission put 20 Russian airlines on the air safety blacklist.

As of mid-March, Russian airlines were able to operate flights to only eight countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, the UAE, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

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