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One month since Russia waged war on Ukraine: The impact so far on business aviation and how the industry is helping war victims

One month has now passed since Russia launched its full-scale military attack on Ukraine, resulting in a humanitarian crisis in Central Europe and further rocking an already shaky global supply chain. It's only been a month, but the world has irrevocably changed. The invasion, along with the resulting sanctions, has cast ripples in the business aviation industry over the past month, impacting every corner: Global flights have been rerouted; FBO fuel prices have skyrocketed; and the leasing and sales of aircraft involving Russian stakeholders, no matter where on the globe a plane might be parked or registered, now requires a much higher level of diligence and confirmation. Also over the past month: A global response unfolding among private jet owners - companies and individuals -flying rescue missions to help those who are suffering. New demands, new needs, and new missions to answer - none of which existed a month ago. How sanctions against Russia have impacted business aviation since Ukraine was invaded The U.S. and its Western allies vowed to "find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets," as U.S. President Joe Biden said in this March 1 State of the Union address, less than a week after the Russian army fired its first salvos. Russia retaliated by passing a law, permitting airlines there to place aircraft leased internationally on the Russian registry, allowing them to be maintained and to fly domestically. However, Reuters interviewed a host of industry experts who said those Russian operators ultimately face a no-win scenario: Ground their fleets and face the threat of economic ruin, or wreck their relationships with lessors in the wake of the war. "Between the airlines, lessors and insurers, you are most probably looking at a decade of lawsuits," independent aviation adviser Bertrand Grabowski told Reuters earlier this month. So how many Russian jets have been seized? Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev reportedly told the Interfax news agency as of March 22 that 78 Russian planes had been captured internationally. Savelyev reportedly said that nearly 800 of the nearly 1,400 planes in Russia when sanctions were levied have been put on the Russian aircraft registry, and that Russia used lessons from Iran on how to cloak aircraft in order to mitigate crushing sanctions. Insurance industry could take a punch from defaults on Russian aircraft So how damaging would the worst-case scenario be? Credit rating provider Firth Ratings forecasts a deep bath of hot water, perhaps costing insurers $10 billion. "The lessors have hull and liability insurance, as well as specific aviation war cover, and will call on their insurance to be indemnified against expropriation of their planes," states a report Fitch published last week. "Most aviation policies are underwritten through the Lloyd's of London market, and we estimate that 30% to 40% of primary insurers' exposure is ceded to reinsurers." Fitch estimates the residual value of the grounded aircraft at $13 billion, with a total on hulls claims of around $5-$6 billion. Of course, that's before you start pricing in the decades of lawsuits. "For comparison, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in about $30 billion of non-life insurance claims, and natural catastrophe claims in 2021 were over $100 billion," the report states. Private jets deliver humanitarian aid for Ukraine As millions have fled Ukraine, and as major cities are cut off and encircled by Russian troops, the effort to get people out of the war-torn country, and to get supplies in, has been facilitated by private aircraft and aviation companies. That has included Universal Weather and Aviation providing flight planning to those flying humanitarian missions into the region, even as many companies try to operate in the dark, as Russian spies and hackers phish for information to blow their cover. Efforts so far have included financial support from Bombardier and Cubcrafters to pilots flying in medical supplies to Titan Airways flying juvenile cancer patients out of Ukraine to get treatment in the UK. "It's not an easy thing to fly an aircraft halfway around the world, get all of the government approvals needed, and have a place to land with a crew there ready to move supplies to a truck and the people in need within a 48-hour period," Pete Lewis, a senior vice president at Universal, told Robb Report. Many of the efforts are being logged by Corporate Jet Investor, with many of the aviation industry groups involved. Those wanting to donate or help should visit businessaviationukraine.org.Previous GlobalAir.com reporting on the Russia-Ukraine War:NBAA hosts experts to provide perspectives on the global impact of the war in UkraineUniversal adds itself to list of aviation companies supporting humanitarian missions for UkraineHow the European business jet industry is adapting to Russian sanctionsAntonov An-225 Mriya, world's largest plane, reportedly destroyed at Ukraine airport
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