Aeroflot (SU, Moscow Sheremetyevo) has bought eight A330s from foreign lessors, a move it claimed met “contractual obligations”, and has transferred them to the Russian register, a spokesperson for the airline told the state-owned news agency TASS on May 13.

“Eight A330 aircraft have been purchased. The aircraft were purchased from foreign lessors as part of the fulfilment of contractual obligations, and the aircraft have been transferred to the Russian registry. Certificates of ownership in the Russian Federation have been issued to PJSC Aeroflot,” the spokesperson said.

Aeroflot’s board of directors discussed the early buyout of aircraft at a meeting on April 25, at around the same time the company announced the imminent launch of widebody flights to the Maldives, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. The majority state-owned flag carrier has not said which companies it had been leasing the aircraft from or how much it had paid.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Aeroflot operates twelve A330-300s, six of which are currently active. In a process that started on March 31, all now have Russian registration codes except for Bermuda-registered VQ-BMV (msn 1284). Eight of the twelve are owned and managed by Aeroflot, while two are owned by GECAS and managed by AerCap, one is owned and managed by Goshawk, and one owned and managed solely by AerCap.

On April 8, the European Union tweaked the sanctions that had been triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, whereby entities in EU member states are allowed to keep receiving payments from Russian carriers until the leases are paid off, after which ownership can be transferred.

Between 400 and 500 aircraft leased from Western firms are stranded in Russia. Aeroflot’s move could be an effort to maintain reasonable relations with lessors given the tense geopolitical circumstances while at the same time ensuring the jets have valid airworthiness certificates.

However, some lessors have resigned themselves to lengthy insurance claims to try to recover some of the lost value of the aircraft, Reuters reported, the biggest of which has been made by AerCap - a USD3.5 billion claim for more than 100 aircraft.