The European Parliament calls for the return of 400 “stolen” planes to Russia

The European Parliament has demanded the return of more than 400 planes from Russia, many belonging to Irish leasing companies, which Moscow kept in the country after the industry was hit with sanctions.

Under European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, aircraft leasing companies were forced to terminate their contracts with Russian carriers by March 28, sparking a stampede for recover and repossess the aircraft.

Hundreds of planes remain in Russia, with an estimated combined value of $10 billion. Most are registered in Bermuda and Ireland, which have suspended certificates of airworthiness, meaning the planes would technically have to be grounded.

But the Russian government announced on March 31 that the planes would be kept in the country and passed a law allowing the planes to be listed in the national registry, breaking international rules in an apparent attempt to allow airlines to continue to operate them. utilize.

In a resolution passed by a show of hands on Thursday, MEPs voted to demand the plane’s return.

“Such theft cannot be tolerated,” reads the text of the resolution, demanding “the immediate return of [aircraft] in question to their rightful owners.

He deplored the Russian government’s act as a “clear violation of international civil aviation rules” and warned of the risk that the lives of passengers could be put at risk as normal safety procedures for the plane will not be possible.

“Russian authorities lack the airworthiness safety oversight capability for the hundreds of re-registered aircraft,” the resolution notes, warning that “Russian authorities will be solely responsible for putting the lives of their own citizens at risk. by putting these stolen planes in danger”. operation over Russian skies without being able to meet the necessary safety requirements.

The airline industry affected

The resolution was devoted to the impact of the Russian invasion on the transport and tourism sectors, and noted that rising fuel prices, overflight bans for Russia and Belarus, and disruption of airline chains supplies had already hit airlines hard after the Covid-19 pandemic. damaged the industry.

The text applauds the transport operators who have offered free travel to people fleeing Ukraine, and the “countless initiatives of associations and individuals, throughout the EU, providing free transport of goods and people to and from from the Ukrainian border”.

During the debate on the resolution, which took place on Tuesday, Green MEP Ciarán Cuffe paid tribute to “transport workers who risk their lives to ensure the functioning of transport in Ukraine”, underlining the role of the rail system in enabling millions of refugees to escape. while moving goods and supplies to the country.

“These lifelines are needed to help keep people alive,” Mr Cuffe said, calling on the EU to switch from Russian oil and gas to renewables and help rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure that was damaged in the process. cost of 100 billion euros. .

Independent left-wing group MEP Clare Daly criticized the resolution for welcoming the sanctions against Russia.

“What I found shocking was that there is not a single sentence in this motion designed to help end [the war]Ms Day said, citing ‘EU war fever’.

“Instead, we see this transport sector subordinated to the war effort… We see the celebration of more sanctions, but not a single word about how workers will be helped to cope with the impact of these sanctions.”

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