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Russia’s Aeroflot Skirts Western Sanctions By Sending Airbus A330 Plane to Iran For Maintenance

Russia’s Aeroflot Skirts Western Sanctions By Sending Airbus A330 Plane to Iran For Maintenance

an airplane on the runway

Russian flag carrier Aeroflot has reportedly sent one of its Airbus A330 aircraft to Iran for essential maintenance in an attempt to skirt Western sanctions that prohibit companies from supplying spare parts from US or European manufacturers.

Ever since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, Aeroflot has continued to fly its fleet of Western-built Airbus and Boeing aircraft despite the sanctions and amidst fears that the planes could no longer be airworthy.

a plane flying in the sky

A spokesperson for the Russian airline has reportedly confirmed it sent the nearly 12-year-old Airbus A330-300 (registration: RA-73700) to Tehran for essential maintenance on April 5. The aircraft has remained on the ground in Iran ever since, according to records provided by Flight Radar 24.

It is the first time in Aeroflot’s history that it has sent an aircraft to Iran for maintenance, but there are already plans to make it a regular practice, so long as the RA-73700 comes out of the hangar in satisfactory condition.

Private Iranian airline Mahan Air has been contracted to do the maintenance work on behalf of Aeroflot at its maintenance base at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Iran is accustomed to U.S. and other Western sanctions that prevent the import of aircraft spare parts, and the country has long found innovative but highly suspect ways to circumvent them.

Mahan Air, a privately-owned commercial airline with a fleet of around 36 rapidly ageing aircraft, has managed to acquire a number of its aircraft in unusual ways – in 2015, for example, the airline reportedly got hold of several Airbus A340s which had been flying from Iraq to Kazakhstan for maintenance when they all had to declare an emergency while flying over Iran.

The planes were forced to land in Iran and wound up in Mahan Air’s fleet.

The Alma Research and Education Center, an Israeli non-profit defence watchdog, recently claimed that Mahan Air serves as a platform for “smuggling weapons” into Syria and Lebanon on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

In January, U.S. officials warned Turkey that the county could face repercussions if organisations linked with the country provided Russian airlines with spare parts. The warning came after it emerged that Russia had reportedly managed to source some spare parts from abroad in violation of Western sanctions.

Last June, Russia ordered some domestic manufacturers to start producing knock-off spare parts for its Airbus and Boeing aircraft, but broadcaster RBC reports that there have been a number of setbacks and local engineers haven’t yet ‘mastered’ all maintenance needs.

TOTH: One Mile at a Time

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