Serious concerns about the safety of Russian flights: The United Nations agency ICAO urgently warned.
UN organizations are notorious for their indecisiveness when it comes to major powers. Therefore, it is remarkable that immediately after the Russian attack on Ukraine, the UN civil aviation authority, ICAO, was the first UN body to condemn the Kremlin for violating Ukrainian airspace.
Meanwhile, the Montreal-based authorities followed suit: in one of their rare publications on serious security concerns, its 193 member states warned that Russia was violating the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization. It is highly questionable whether the Russian supervisory authorities will continue to enforce the mandatory safety regulations.
Lack of spare parts due to sanctions
ICAO gives Moscow until September 14 to comply with the rules again. Otherwise, she wants to publish the previous secret banknote. The European Union explicitly welcomes the reprimand of the United Nations. For Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Russia is putting human lives at risk, especially Russians.
The main problem: Because of the sanctions, there is a shortage of spare parts for many of the approximately 980 civilian aircraft operating in Russia, many of which are made in the West. Airlines have to ground and break up more and more planes so others can keep flying.
Their flags were returned and de facto stolen
Three-quarters of the aircraft are chartered and registered abroad, for example in Ireland or in Bermuda, where the charter companies are located. The respective flag states are responsible for the airworthiness of these aircraft.
But the Russians simply changed the flags of hundreds of aircraft and registered them in Russia – against the will of the owners. In fact, they stole it. It is uncertain whether the charter companies will ever take back their aircraft at any time and in any case.
The United Nations cannot punish
Moscow now decides for itself whether to consider its planes airworthy. Not only in the United Nations there are serious doubts that the Russians are doing this seriously. And also reasonable because of the imperfection. After Iran, which also has a huge spare parts and maintenance problem, Russia is now likely to use more and more of the dilapidated machinery.
ICAO cannot impose sanctions. It cannot force Russia to land planes, nor can it force other countries to deny landing rights to Aeroflot & Co. She can only encourage them and warn passengers not to travel with them. At the moment, Russian airlines still fly to dozens of countries.
Russian machines in service with the United Nations
The United Nations itself now has a problem. She regularly rents planes, not least Russian. It is cheaper than western. Currently, 62 Russian cargo planes and helicopters are flying for UN aid operations or Blue Helmets missions.
If the UN follows its own agency, it should immediately terminate leases with the Russians. This is what the staff of the United Nations is demanding. The head of UN operations and the head of the World Food Program at least raise the question.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will have to make a decision. But he finds it difficult. He does not want Moscow’s contempt in order not to jeopardize the Ukrainian grain export agreement. It is clear that Russia’s blatant and erratic handling of aviation safety is creating increasing problems.
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