Planes of Russian oligarchs continue to fly in Europe’s airspace, despite the sanctions imposed at the beginning of the war, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reports after examining the flights tracking data. In total, the publication reported nearly 30 such flights.
In mid-March, the British authorities arrested an aircraft owned by Yevgeny Shvidler, head of the investment company Millhouse in south London. Before its arrest, it had managed to fly over the EU eight times, including Germany’s airspace. Last time it set out to London from Hamburg on March 18; no one stopped its departure.
Ursula von der Leyen announced the closure of EU airspace for any aircraft owned by Russian oligarchs on February 27. However, that did not stop the plane owned by the Metalloinvest founder Alisher Usmanov from taking off at the Munich Airport the very next day. At the same time, the billionaire’s second plane left Florence for Tashkent.
According to the EU representative, imposing sanctions on aircraft registered outside Russia and belonging to non-Russian companies is sometimes difficult because of the lack of transparency of ownership. An example of such an aircraft is the Bombardier belonging to the Yota founder Albert Avdolyan. It is registered in San Marino and operated by a Swiss company. On March 2, the Bombardier flew from Nice to Istanbul.
The same thing happened with the plane belonging to one of Russia’s richest men, Viktor Vekselberg. Registered in Luxembourg, it took off from Basel in April, crossed the EU airspace and landed in Nur-Sultan.
Another person whose aircraft has been flying unimpeded over the EU is Alexander Zanadvorov, owner of the Seventh Continent supermarket chain. His helicopter has flown over France at least eight times since the sanctions were imposed.
On April 1, a Gulfstream G550, arriving from Dubai, was arrested at the London airport. It had been chartered by the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, and “Putin’s cook” Yevgeny Prigozhin used it to fly to Africa.