Aeroflot Suspends Sri Lanka Flights After A330 Detained
The fallout from a Colombo court’s order to seize an Aeroflot A330 continues as Aeroflot plans repatriation flights.
Aeroflot has suspended all flights to Sri Lanka after a court ordered the seizure of one of its Airbus A330s on Thursday, June 2nd. The seizure came after the plane’s Irish owner requested an injunction since the A330’s lease had been terminated following sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Here’s more on the situation.No more commercial flights
In an expected move, Aeroflot has axed all commercial flights in and out of Sri Lanka as it looks to retrieve it’s Airbus A330 seized on the ground. However, the airline is operating two repatriation flights on June 4th and 5th to bring home citizens who are asked to deplane on June 2nd due to the seizure and those scheduled to fly on the 4th and 5th.
The first of these flights landed on Saturday in Colombo at 10:12 AM local time after the 8 hours and 30-minute journey from Moscow. Notably, there were no passengers on this flight since it was only set to repatriate stranded travelers. The second repatriation flight landed Sunday morning at the time and is currently en route to Moscow.
While both flights carried flight number SU288, commercial services remain suspended for now. In a statement to The Economic Times, Aeroflot said,
“Aeroflot is suspending commercial flights to Colombo (Sri Lanka) for the immediate period due to an unreliable situation in terms of the airline’s unobstructed flights to Sri Lanka. The sales of tickets for flights to Colombo have been temporarily shut down.”Getting everyone home
The Colombo Commercial Court has banned the seized A330, RA-73702 (previously VQ-BMY), from leaving the country until June 16th under the original order. However, there is a hearing scheduled for June 8th to potentially lift the order and allow Aeroflot to fly its jets home.
However, lessor Celestial Aviation Ireland is unlikely to let this happen without a fight. The A330 was previously leased to Aeroflot by GECAS and AerCap and was reregistered in April after the EU ordered that all leases to Russian carriers be canceled and aircraft seized. While the former went into effect, getting the planes back has been difficult due to the reregistration.
However, Aeroflot has promised passengers that it will continue to operate flights in the coming days and weeks to bring all citizens back home. Whether these will be repatriation or commercial services remains to be seen.Looking ahead
The situation with Russian airlines and aircraft continues to evolve amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. We’ve seen several surprises occur across the aviation industry in the last few months since the start of the invasion. There will undoubtedly be several more twists in the coming months as operators and authorities try to adapt to the global conditions.