New blow for AirBridgeCargo as Bermuda suspends certificates

By Damian Brett

Image source: ABC

The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCCA) has suspended all airworthiness certificates for Russian aircraft on its registry.

The suspension entered force on March 12 and is expected to effect around 700 aircraft.

All of AirBridgeCargo’s fleet of 18 freighters – four B747-400Fs, 13 B747-8Fs and one B777F – are listed on the Bermuda registry, as indicated by the registration prefixes VP-B and VQ-B.

The BCCA reasoned that international sanctions on the aviation sector have had a significant impact on the ability to sustain safety oversight on Russian operated aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry.

“The airworthiness system has been restricted to the point that the BCAA is unable to confidently approve these aircraft as being airworthy,” the BCCA said.

Aircraft are not allowed to fly unless they have an airworthiness certificate issued by the state where they are registered.

Russian airlines operating western aircraft face further hurdles – sanctions also mean that manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus will no longer supply spare parts. 

Sanctions also require that lessors from many western countries will need to terminate aircraft lease deals they have with Russian airlines.

Consulting firm IBA figures show that there are around 520 aircraft leased to Russian airlines by foreign companies.

The sanctions mean that European leasing companies will need to terminate their leases on March 28 and recover aircraft.

Russia has proposed that aircraft leased by Russian airlines can be registered as their property and then placed on the Russian registry.

Even though the decision is another blow to the freighter operator, the AirBridgeCargo fleet has largely been static over recent days as Russian carriers face a ban over European airspace due to sanctions placed on the country following its invasion of Ukraine.

According to flight tracking website FlightRadar24, only four of the airline’s aircraft have conducted any flights over the past seven days, operating to Shenzhen, Moscow, Dubai, Nur-Sultan, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Krasnoyarsk, Shanghai and Bahrain.

The airline’s last flight took off from Seoul for Moscow in the early hours of March 13.

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