UK criminalizes private jet sanction breaching charters to Russians

By Doug Gollan, March 10, 2022

After impounding a private jet linked to an oligarch, the UK’s Transport Minister said he is criminalizing Russia sanction breaches, including private jet charters to “persons connected with Russia”

Following the seizure of a private jet breaching Russian sanctions at an airport outside London this week, the U.K.’s Minister of Transportation said he has criminalized future offenses.

After a private jet chartered to a Russian national was detained last week in Canada, the pilots, passengers, and the jet owner were fined around $20,000. The jet, passengers, and crew were released within days.

The UK move raises the stakes for private jet operators, brokers, and jet owners who have their aircraft on the charter market.

Russia Sanctions warning

The Air Charter Association warned members, “Where a company or other body corporate has committed one of these offenses, individual company directors and other senior officers/managers can also be convicted of the same criminal offense.”

U.K. Transport Minister Grant Shapp wrote, “There is also a power for me to issue directions to the CAA to terminate the registration of aircraft on the U.K. register where the aircraft is owned, chartered, or operated by a person who has been designated for the purposes of aviation sanctions.”

UK Minister Russian charters
A letter from U.K. Transport Secretary Grand Shapps threatens criminal charges for operators and brokers who violate sanctions against chartering private jets.

It comes as several providers on both sides of the Atlantic have expressed concerns that authorities have been slow in providing detailed guidance.

The U.K. edict bans individuals who are connected to Russia. That’s defined as an individual who is, or an association or combination of individuals who are, ordinarily resident in Russia, an individual who is, or an association or combination of individuals who are, located in Russia, a person, other than an individual, which is incorporated or constituted under the law of Russia, or a person, other than an individual, which is domiciled in Russia.

In the U.S. this seemingly includes dual Russian passport holders as we have previously reported.

EU regulations on Russian charter and fractional aircraft

The Air Charter Association tells members, “We understand that if you have a Russian passenger, you should carry out detailed due diligence and request permission from the relevant authority for them to travel on a business jet flight, since in most cases this may not be possible and only scheduled travel is allowed.”

It notes, “The EU considers dual passport holders to be covered by the restrictions.”

Referring to shared ownership fleets, it says, “For fractional ownership situations in the EU, if the aircraft is minority Russian owned then it is ok to use the aircraft for non-Russian shareholders, but not for the Russian shareholders.”

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