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Aviation Blog

Canada Fines Private Jet Chartered By Russians – Forbes

While most media coverage of aviation-related sanctions has focused on seizing designated Oligarchs’ assets, including their private jets, actions by the United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, and the United States prohibit Russian nationals from chartering private jets.
A notice last week from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration stated, “The Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) and regulatory orders will suspend operations of all aircraft owned, certified, operated, registered, chartered, leased, or controlled by, for, or for the benefit of, a person who is a citizen of Russia. This includes passenger and cargo flights, and scheduled as well as charter flights, effectively closing U.S. air space to all Russian commercial air carriers and other Russian civil aircraft.”
A Dassault Falcon 900 like this jet, but registered as VP-CVS in the Cayman Islands, was detained in … [+] Canada last week for violations of that nation’s sanctions prohibiting Russian nationals from chartering private jets. Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
According to a report in the National Post, Canada may have caught the first private jet charter flight attempting to skirt the sanctions.
A large cabin Dassault Falcon 900 registered in the Cayman Islands, its crew and passengers were detained at Yellowknife after landing from Geneva, Switzerland, last Tuesday. The aircraft was released and flew back to Europe Friday.
The Russian charter customer was fined $3,000, as was the jet’s pilot. The aircraft’s owner, listed as Dunard Engineering Ltd., was fined $15,000.
Diane Archie, Minister of Infrastructure, told Canadian regional legislators, “It appears that the plane and its passengers were on their way to Resolute, Nunavut with the intention of taking a planned Arctic overland expedition in a large all-terrain utility vehicle.”
It’s not clear how authorities were led to the jet or if the actions were the results of normal customs and immigration processing. Russians are not allowed to charter jets; however, they can travel as passengers.
David Hernandez, a partner with Vedder Price and a former FAA and DOT attorney, warns the industry and consumers to act proactively to comply with the sanctions. He says U.S. authorities take a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach.
He says the sanctions apply to dual passport holders, so anyone who holds Russian citizenship is subject to the charter ban.
Last week during a webinar held by Corporate Jet Investor, one attendee noted, “Yesterday we had a flight with a European operator between Italy and France. Because the Captain was Russian – he has lived in the Czech Republic for the past 10 years – the aircraft was denied entry into France.”
Another participant expressed concern about what will be expected of the industry to ensure compliance, especially with customers who have multiple passports.
Robert Baltus, COO of the European Business Aviation Association, warned brokers and operators against allowing customers to use workarounds.
Reading the EU sanctions, he noted, “It shall be prohibited to participate, knowingly or intentionally, in activities the object or effect of which is to circumvent the prohibitions set out in this decision, including by acting as a substitute for the natural or legal persons, entities or bodies subject to those prohibitions, or by acting to their benefit by using any of the exceptions provided for in this decision.”
While the Canadian fines may seem light, Hernandez says operators risk their certificates and jet owners could find their aircraft impounded.
So far, it’s not clear what actions industry players are taking to ensure Russian nationals don’t charter their jets. One executive said he expects operators will require lead passengers and brokers to attest that the customer doesn’t hold a Russian passport or isn’t a principal at a Russian-controlled company.
Another operator executive said it’s a hot topic. “It’s a discussion right now. I think it’s going to be a bit like Covid. There are daily developments. Once everyone understood (Covid) wasn’t short-term, and there were (compliance issues), you saw the industry figure out how to comply. Aviation is highly regulated. It may be one more form to sign for customers, but I think (authorities) will say we have a responsibility to inform customers. If a customer gives us a Spanish or American passport, and they provide a sworn statement they don’t have a Russian passport, they aren’t subject to the sanctions, and we do our normal due diligence, against no-fly lists, etc., I would hope that it would show we are doing our part (but) we are paying our lawyers to tell us what to do.”

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