The fall-out from the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made its way to the US District Court in New York where Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation has laid a complaint against Russia’s AirBridgeCargo (RU, Ulyanovsk Vostochny) for the return of a leased B747-8F.

BOC owns Bermuda-registered VQ-BFE (msn 60118), currently stored at Hong Kong Int'l and leased to AirBridgeCargo since 2015, ch-aviation fleets advanced data reveals.

According to the court docket filed on March 14, hull war reinsurance covering VQ-BFE, as well two other B747-8Fs leased by BOC Aviation to AirBridgeCargo, were cancelled on March 7 by Lloyd’s Aviation Underwriters Association. This was in line with sanctions imposed by the European Union on February 25 in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The measures restrict Russian carriers from performing their aircraft lease and finance obligations and prohibit EU insurers from providing insurance or reinsurance of aircraft operated by Russian carriers.

The cancellation of the reinsurance triggered a default under a provision of the parties’ lease agreement, giving BOC Aviation authority to immediately repossess all the aircraft and waiving AirBridgeCargo’s rights to a hearing prior to the repossession. BOC Aviation was also entitled to immediately repossess the aircraft under the terms of the Cape Town Convention, which protects the rights of aircraft owners.

BOC Aviation terminated the aircraft leases to AirBridgeCargo and demanded the immediate return of all aircraft with all necessary records.

AirBridgeCargo, however, refused to recognise the termination of the leases. Instead, it demanded that BOC Aviation authorise VQ-BFE to be flown from Hong Kong to Russia.

Meanwhile, on March 6, the Russian operator spirited the other two B747-8Fs from China to Moscow in breach of specific instructions from BOC Aviation to ground those aircraft, and in one case, after the termination of the leasing and consequent suspension of the certificate of airworthiness of the aircraft. To date, AirBridgeCargo has refused to release those aircraft to BOC Aviation.

The aircraft involved are VQ-BFU (msn 60117) and VP-BIN (msn 60119), now both stored at Moscow Sheremetyevo, ch-aviation fleets advanced data shows. According to the docket, AirBridgeCargo attempted to divert VQ-BFU to Dubai, but subsequently flew it to Moscow despite its lease and airworthiness certificate having been revoked.

BOC Aviation seeks, among other things, an order from the US court of immediate repossession of the aircraft under Article 20 of the Cape Town Convention, a declaration that it is entitled to immediate repossess the aircraft, and an order directing AirBridgeCargo to turn over all necessary aircraft documentation to allow BOC Aviation to ferry VQ-BFE out of Hong Kong.

Of the four General Electric GEnx-2b67/P engines on the aircraft, two are also owned by BOC Aviation.

AirBridgeCargo was not immediately available for comment.