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Russia accused of “stealing” hundreds of airliners

Rusia acusada de "robar" cientos de aviones de línea

Russia has "Stolen" hundreds of passenger planes, representing billions of euros in damages to their foreign lessors, senior European officials said on Friday, after Moscow allowed the registration of these planes on its territory.

Russian airlines have until Monday to return the planes, under aviation sanctions approved by the European Union after Russian forces invaded Ukraine a month ago.

However, according to a law promulgated by President Vladimir Putin and published on March 14, Russian airlines have the possibility to register in Russia the planes they rent abroad so that they can fly on Russian territory.

This measure allows companies to continue using those devices for domestic flights despite Western sanctions. If they flew abroad they would be confiscated.

"Most of the planes that could fly abroad are aircraft that they have rented, that are of European or American origin, and that have been stolen from their rightful owners, the lessors."said the Director General of Transport of the European Commission, Henrik Hololei.

By re-registering the aircraft in Russia, the country’s authorities are "seriously violating international air law and also the basic law of civil aviation, the Chicago convention"Hololei warned, during his speech at an online conference of the European air traffic monitoring body, Eurocontrol.

"There are around 10,000 million (€), more than 500 devices seized by the Russians and registered with them"alerted for his part the director general of Eurocontrol, Eamonn Brennan. "This creates a very difficult situation for European rental companies and insurers"he added.

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