The 747-8F at the center of the legal dispute between BOC Aviation and AirBridgeCargo has made its way to the United States, arriving in San Bernardino (SBD) March 25. Cargo Facts had sighted the aircraft as recently as March 24 parked outside the HAECO facility in Hong Kong (HKG).
BOC Aviation filed a lawsuit on March 14 in the U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York, seeking to repossess unit 60118 after it terminated the lease agreement with AirBridgeCargo as a result of the international sanctions against Russia.
The lessor claimed that the aircraft was being improperly maintained while being stranded at HKG and had requested AirBridgeCargo to relocate the aircraft to an airport more suitable for storage.
BOC Aviation had leased two other 747-8Fs to AirBridgeCargo. Those aircraft, (60117 and 60119) remain in Moscow (SVO) where they have been since March 6.
In response to the lawsuit, AirBridgeCargo threatened not to return units 60117 and 60119 unless the stranded unit 60118 was permitted to return to Russia.
Unit 60118 had been at HKG since March 1 and was unable to leave following the removal of its certificate of airworthiness by the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority on March 12. The entirety of AirBridgeCargo’s fleet had Bermudan registrations.
The Irish Aviation Authority made a similar move to revoke the airworthiness of all Russian-operated aircraft on its register.
Since then, Russian aircraft previously registered in Bermuda or Ireland flying internationally would either require an exemption from governing bodies of the airspace along the route of flight or conduct their flight illegally.
Both AirBridgeCargo and BOC Aviation declined to comment.
In response to the invalidation of registrations for aircraft in both the Bermudan and Irish registries, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a new law to incentivize Russian operators to re-register their aircraft in the country.
The change in policy prompts fears that Russia will continue to violate international law by refusing to honor lessors’ ownership of Russian-operated aircraft.
Several carriers have already reregistered multiple aircraft in Russia, including freighter operator Aviastar-TU, which has now transferred at least five 757-200PCFs from Bermudan to Russian registration.
Meanwhile, both of Sky Gates Airlines’ 747-400Fs are now flying with Azerbaijan-based Silk Way West Airlines.
The Russian government on March 5 moved to ban certain international flights and require approval for others as a measure to prevent seizure of foreign aircraft operated by Russian airlines, according to published reports.
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