- Belarus is for the oligarchs’ private planes, not the French Riviera.
- Fifty or more private planes have changed their registration to Russia since the conflict in Ukraine began.
- Sanctions make it tough to get spare parts and restrict where you can go.
- Now he frequently visits Turkey, Dubai, China, and the former Soviet republics.
Russian Private Jet Owners: In the period preceding the conflict in Ukraine, a privately owned Boeing 737 associated with Russian oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov traveled extensively around the world, visiting destinations such as the French Riviera, the Maldives, and the Seychelles, as well as major international capitals and financial hubs.
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According to flight tracking data from Flightradar24, the aircraft has traveled to non-traditional playgrounds visited by the wealthy this year, including China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.
According to the Reuters news agency, some wealthy and powerful Russians are finding ways to keep their private aircraft running, which is a sign of the severity and limitations of the Western sanctions that have been in place since Moscow invaded Ukraine. Nevertheless, the places to which the aircraft are permitted to travel have been severely limited by these restrictions.
Where are Russian travelers sanctioned?
After the invasion in February 2022, at least fifty private aircraft, including the Boeing connected to Yevtushenkov, were re-registered under the Russian flag. Early in August, Reuters examined the data used to compile this information from the national aircraft register.
According to two senior sources in the Russian aviation industry, several private Russian private jet owners who were brought back to the country were associated with prominent officials and businessmen. On the condition of anonymity, these sources—who were not allowed to speak with the media—shared this information.
Western sanctions are followed by places like Aruba and the Isle of Man, where some aircraft were previously registered. According to one of the individuals, this has made it more difficult for Russian-owned aircraft using these countries’ flags to get insurance, fuel, and permits.
They can fly to and from nations like Turkey and Dubai that do not have flight restrictions or where individual travelers are not subject to penalties by flying the aircraft under the Russian flag.
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Based on his deep industry knowledge, the same source states that despite these strategic moves, more than half of Russia’s fleet of private and business Russian private jet owners, or about 400 aircraft, is still either stuck abroad or has been sold.
As of early March 2022, there were 97 business aircraft flying the Russian flag; as of today, that number has increased to 145.
Russia’s aircraft are prohibited from entering the European Union, which consists of 27 nations, due to sanctions. This ban applies to the area where Russian oligarchs used to vacation regularly, both for business and pleasure. Furthermore, their tail numbers show that a large proportion of the private aircraft connected to these people were registered in the EU before the war.
How are Russian private jet owners getting around the travel sanctions?
Both organizers and managers of business Russian private jet owners in the aviation industry have reported that certain jet owners are traveling from Russia to Turkey or former Soviet states. Subsequently, these individuals are chartering alternative aircraft to reach EU airports, as long as they are not subject to personal sanctions.
One source stated that this conduct happens at least once a week, although they did not give any specific examples.
Customs data indicates that several aircraft being returned home are associated with state-run businesses and businesspeople who have backed or are connected to President Vladimir Putin in the conflict in Ukraine.
Most of the privately owned aircraft that returned to Russia after the war mostly originated from the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and the former Soviet Union, according to customs data.
Flightradar24 data shows that, like the Boeing linked to Yevtushenkov, the remaining re-registered aircraft have avoided flying into EU territory, choosing instead to remain in nations that are perceived to be in favor of Russia.
Russian Private Jet Owners’ wings have been clipped following the invasion of Ukraine
Yevtushenkov’s Boeing made multiple trips to Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the Maldives between the beginning of 2020 and the invasion of Ukraine. According to information from Flightradar24, it also made a single flight to the Czech Republic, the Seychelles, and Croatia.
Along with Russia, it also made 105 trips to France, 17 to Italy, 8 to the United Arab Emirates, Latvia, 5 to Britain, and 4 to Turkey.
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The plane continued to fly between Turkish, UAE, Omani, and Kazakh airports after the invasion began in 2022, without once entering EU territory. It made just 14 trips during this time.
The aircraft was registered under the Russian flag in late December, according to Russia’s aircraft registry, which was made public on Rosaviatsiya’s website in August.
Its flights have mainly been restricted to Russia since its formal import into the country on December 30, according to customs statistics, from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, an ex-Soviet republic.
As of now, in 2023, it has made 47 flights within Russia and nine total trips to China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus.