Russian airlines have offered to buy the aircraft they lease from Dublin-based SMBC Aviation Capital, the world’s second-largest aircraft lessor by assets, and SMBC has lobbied the European Union and the Irish government to try to secure exceptions to Russian sanctions in an effort to find a solution to its stranded jets, Irish High Court filings appear to reveal.

Earlier this year, Western sanctions triggered by the war in Ukraine forced lessors to cancel contracts with Russian airlines, and Moscow then refused the aircraft to leave, stranding about 400 aircraft there and prompting lessors to sue their own insurers. SMBC has itself lodged a USD1.75 billion claim against its insurance firms over the stranded assets, according to the Irish business and finance news site The Currency.

The site cited court documents as saying that SMBC Aviation Capital engaged in “significant lobbying” in Brussels and Dublin for a get-out clause on the sanctions allowing its jets to be sold to Russian airlines. This came after it was allegedly offered an ex gratia (voluntary) payment of USD562.2 million on behalf of Aeroflot (SU, Moscow Sheremetyevo) to settle an insurance claim against the airline.

SMBC said in a letter dated September 15, released to the court, that it had spoken to the flag carrier and its insurance firm AlfaStrakhovanie Group, which said that the payment would be “in return for the transfer of ownership of the aircraft to the Russian insurer or its nominee,” both The Currency and Reuters news agency reported.

SMBC Aviation Capital has said it sustained an impairment of USD1.6 billion this year for 34 aircraft. AlfaStrakhovanie offered it USD644.2 million for 17 aircraft leased to Aeroflot, minus USD82 million already paid in deposits and reserves, the lessor explained in its letter. The Irish company regarded the sum as insufficient to meet its claims but in any case said it had worked on lobbying efforts that “would enable EU operating lessors to seek authorisation to transfer ownership of aircraft formerly leased to Russian lessees or their Russian insurers,” the document revealed, as cited by Reuters.

SMBC has also allegedly been approached by Moscow-based Elbrus Insurance Brokers on behalf of NordStar (Y7, Norilsk) and, separately, by S7 Airlines (S7, Novosibirsk) to discuss “potential claim solutions,” the letter divulged.

SMBC Aviation Capital, Aeroflot, NordStar, and S7 did not immediately respond to ch-aviation’s request for comment.