Canada fines private jet chartered by Russians

While most media coverage of aviation-related sanctions has focused on the seizure of the assets of designated oligarchs, including their private jets, the actions of the UK, European Union, Canada and the United States to forbid Russian nationals from chartering private jets.

A note last week, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said: “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, as well as scheduled and charter flights, thereby closing US airspace to all Russian commercial air carriers and other Russian civil aircraft. »

According to a report in the national postCanada may have caught the first private jet charter flight attempting to circumvent sanctions.

A large cabin Dassault Falcon 900 registered in the Cayman Islands, its crew and passengers were detained in Yellowknife after landing from Geneva, Switzerland last Tuesday. The plane was jettisoned and returned to Europe on Friday.

The Russian charter customer was fined $3,000, as was the pilot of the jet. The plane’s owner, listed as Dunard Engineering Ltd., was fined $15,000.

Diane Archie, Minister of Infrastructure, told Canadian regional lawmakers: “It appears that the plane and its passengers were en route to Resolute, Nunavut, with the intention of taking part in a planned land expedition in the Arctic in a large all-terrain utility vehicle.

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It is unclear how authorities were led to the jet or whether the actions were the result of normal customs and immigration processing. Russians are not allowed to charter jets; however, they may travel as passengers.

David Hernandez, Vedder Price partner and former FAA and DOT attorney, warns industry and consumers to act proactively to comply with sanctions. He says US officials are taking a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach.

He says the sanctions apply to holders of dual passports, so anyone who holds Russian citizenship is subject to the charter ban.

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Last week during a webinar organized by Business Jet Investor, one participant 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 10 years – the plane was seen refuse entry into France.”

Another participant expressed concern about what will be expected of industry to ensure compliance, particularly 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 is 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 in the place of the natural or legal person persons, entities or bodies subject to these prohibitions, or by acting for their benefit by using one of the exceptions provided for in this Decision. »

While Canadian fines may seem light, Hernandez says operators are risking their certificates and aircraft owners could have their aircraft confiscated.

So far, it is unclear what steps industry players have taken to ensure Russian nationals do not charter their jets. One executive said he expects operators to require principal passengers and brokers to certify that the customer does not hold a Russian passport or is not the principal of a Russian-controlled business.

Another operator executive said it was 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 understands that (Covid) was not short term, and that there were (compliance issues), you saw the industry figure out how to comply. Aviation is highly regulated. This may be one more form for customers to sign, but I think (the authorities) will say that we have a responsibility to inform customers. If a customer gives us a Spanish or American passport, and they provide an affidavit that they do not have a Russian passport, that they are not subject to sanctions and that we are doing our normal due diligence, against no-fly lists etc. hopefully this will show that we are doing our part (but) we are paying our lawyers to tell us what to do.”

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