It has been disclosed that over 50% of the Belarusian airline fleet is managed through Irish leasing companies.
This comes amid accusations that the same flights were being used by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to bring migrants to Belarus and force them into Europe in retaliation against sanctions imposed on the country by the EU.
Belarus’ State-run aircraft Belavia relies on Irish leased aircraft and will be included in the targetted sanctions because of its potential role in transporting migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Minsk.
It’s understood that the Irish Government is currently working with the European Commission to formulate plans that will prevent Irish registered airlines from being leased to Belavia as part of the sanctions.
Ireland manages some 50% of the world’s leased aircraft and if the existing contracts that Irish leasing companies have with Belavia are terminated, leasing companies may attempt to recoup losses and assets which would include repatriating aircraft currently on the ground in Belarus.
However, this may be a difficult situation as physically returning aircraft would still require permission from Belarusian authorities which may not be guaranteed.
Re-registering aircraft that has been registered with Belavia can also be costly and complex.
While supporting the latest round of sanctions, including the ones placed on Belavia, Ireland has been noted by officials to be a co-sponsor of the sanctions.
IMAGE – “Belavia, EW-456PA, Boeing 737-8ZM” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Anna Zvereva/“Dáil Éireann – Election of Taoiseach” by House of the Oireachtas (CCBY2.0)