Sunday, 14 Apr 2024

Russia airline projects ‘are in no state to present to buyers’ as sanctions hit

Since launching in 1993, MAKS (Russia’s International Air and Space Salon) has been used by the government to display the country’s achievements in high-end technology.

MAKS XVI had been scheduled for July 25-30, but Interfax reported that the event had been “postponed”, citing an unidentified source close to the organisers.

Some reports suggested that the reason for the cancellation was due to security concerns and the fears the aircraft could be potential targets.

According to business daily Vedomosti, one reason is that aircraft are not in a position where they can be presented to buyers.

While not all the sanctions targeting Russia in reaction to their illegal invasion of Ukraine have had as great an impact as hoped, reports suggest the civilian aviation industry has been hit hard.

Vedomosti added that MAKS is scheduled to take place next summer.

The news comes as there are growing concerns about the safety of Russia’s domestic fleet as aircraft reportedly continue to fly with expired safety equipment.

Head of Rostransnadzor, Viktor Basargin, reportedly told a Russian parliamentary committee meeting that Western sanctions meant that key safety equipment couldn’t be replaced.

The Kommersant newspaper reported that he said: “Several hundred unscheduled inspections of airlines…showed that companies operating western equipment have a shortage of components, problems with the supply of consumables.”

Mr Basargin’s comments come after a Russian opposition website published an investigation in which it claimed Aeroflot – Russia’s biggest airline – had told its cabin crews to stop reporting defective or missing equipment.

In a statement, Aeroflot said: “All spare parts undergo strict incoming control for compliance with quality requirements, history of origin, and have the necessary certificates.”

The investigation, conducted by investigative Russian news outlet Proekt, cited interviews with staff and an email allegedly sent to employees telling them to report malfunctions verbally and not to write them down.

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One flight attendant allegedly told Proekt: “In cases where spare parts were unavailable and in order to avoid grounding the plane, the aircraft was allowed to take off with a malfunction, even if it was quite significant.”

A former Aeroflot employee added that the main aim of the directive was “to prevent aircraft from being grounded due to a malfunction that, on paper, should prevent the aircraft from being operated until it is fixed.”.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Aeroflot has been banned from airspace in Europe and North America because of Western economic and travel sanctions.

Its routes are now limited to Turkey, Central Asia, China and holiday destinations popular with Russians including Thailand and Egypt.

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