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Russian oligarchs hit by airspace ban as private jet departures plummet 25%

Russian oligarchs are being hit by international airspace bans, with private jet traffic out of the country dropping by 25 per cent in the last week.

Nations including the UK, US, Canada and all members of the EU have imposed a block on Russian aircraft in the days since the country invaded Ukraine.

The move meant that commercial Russian airline Aeroflot was forced to cancel all flights to destinations that had imposed sanctions and reroute a number of flights to ensure they didn’t cross over prohibited airspace.

However, it’s also impacting on Russia’s wealthiest citizens, with private jet owners similarly stifled by the directives.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, singled out this cohort when issuing the EU’s no-fly-zone policy.

“Let me be very clear,” she said. “Our airspace will be closed to every Russian plane – and that includes the private jets of oligarchs.”

Russians own somewhere in the region of 300 to 500 business jets, according to reports.

Airspace bans are significantly limiting travel options for owners: “We’ve already seen a big drop in traffic in just three days,” Richard Koe of WingX, which tracks business flights, told Robb Report earlier this week.

If the measures continue, some experts have speculated that Russian aircraft could be seized if owners are unable to make repayments on them.

Alasdair Whyte, CEO of Corporate Business Jet Investor, told email subscribers that “we could soon see repossessions” of these jets.

Flight tracking sites show Russian planes have been forced to take circuitous routes in recent days to avoid banned airspace.

On Sunday, Russian Aeroflot flight SU2091 flew an elaborate curve around Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania while travelling from Belgrade to Moscow, adding three hours and 40 minutes to its journey time.

Meanwhile, Aeroflot’s SU157 flight from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, to Moscow was forced to make an exaggerated upward curve on Sunday night, skirting the east coast of the US and flying south over the east of Finland in order to reach home base.

Russian charter airline Pegas Fly made an awkward arch over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to fly the usually straightforward hop between Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea, and Belarusian capital Minsk.

The journey, which usually takes 50 minutes, took nearly two and a half hours to complete.

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