The latest in the European Union’s package of sanctions against Russia involves banning the export of all spare aircraft parts and equipment to Russian airlines
There are exactly two Russian groups I feel sorry for in this whole fiasco of an invasion. The people, who are being taken for a ride by Putin and his cronies and want nothing to do with the Kremlin’s war, and Russian airlines. Not only have Russian airlines such as Aeroflot had to contend with the crippling effects of Covid just like the rest of the world, but now their recovery efforts are being all but halted by war and the sanctions from other countries it brings. Not only will the economic sanctions hit Russian aviation harder than a sack of bricks, but now the EU has announced it will be banning all exports of spare parts and equipment to Russian Airlines. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced that “this will degrade key sectors of Russia’s economy and the country’s connectivity.” When you consider that three quarters of the country’s total commercial air fleet has been built in the EU, the US and Canada, the extent to which the banning of spare parts will affect Russia’s commercial aviation industry will be devastating.
The sale of actual aircraft is also banned, which broadens the scope of the EU’s response to Putin’s aggression significantly. No longer are sanctions being reserved for individuals and corporations with direct ties to the Kremlin, but now the entirety of Russia’s infrastructure is starting to feel the bite. Sanctions such as these are not just one sided, however. In response to the increase of pressure, Putin has cut off the West from accessing Russia’s massive raw material rich industry, sending oil prices soaring, which may in turn affect the global aviation industry. You see, it’s bad enough that airlines are still suffering from pandemic woes – now, they may have to face a massive increase in the cost of aviation fuel. This will undoubtedly put the industry under strain, and we may see a few bankruptcies before the whole situation is over. One good thing that may come from these events in that regard is a further reliance on sustainable fuels like SAF and hydrogen. The lack of Russian fuel may prove to be the catalyst these industries need to get going, as supply rises to meet demand through creating further infrastructure and promoting adoption from Western airlines. Whatever happens in the future, the present is certainly full of violent uncertainty as aviation is forced to navigate yet another massive threat. With airlines like Virgin Galactic and British Airways re-routing flights away from Russian airspace; Moscow banning UK-based airlines in response to the UK doing the same to Russian carriers; and Ukrainian airspace being put under a strict no-fly zone – whatever happens next is anyone’s guess.