Bermuda says it is suspending certification of Russian planes licensed in the British overseas territory due to sanctions on Moscow, likely impacting hundreds of Russian commercial aircraft around the world.
The move could have critical effects including the grounding of a significant portion of the Russian fleet, more than 700 of which are believed to be licensed in Bermuda.
"International sanctions on the aviation sector have had a significant impact on the ability to sustain safety oversight on Russian operated aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry," the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) said late Saturday in a statement.
The system has been restricted to such a degree that the BCAA "is unable to confidently approve these aircraft as being airworthy," the agency said.
As of late March 12, "the BCAA has provisionally suspended all Certificates of Airworthiness of those aircraft operating under the Article 83bis Agreement between Bermuda and the Russian Federation," it said.
The announcement is the latest blow to a Russian commercial airlines sector already reeling from punitive measures after the country's invasion of Ukraine.
Russian carrier Aeroflot was banned from the airspace of the entire EU, the United Kingdom and Canada, forcing it to suspend flights to these destinations, while American aviation giant Boeing suspended its support for Russian airlines and its operations in Moscow.
Aviation industry experts told AFP on Sunday the move by BCAA jeopardizes Russia's ability to operate these aircraft.
Following the license suspension, "aviation authorities... will almost certainly say 'We don't want your planes,'" said Michel Merluzeau, an aerospace market analyst with AIR, although he added that Russian authorities could say that if proper maintenance is done, they can still fly in Russia.
But with sanctions barring manufacturers Airbus and Boeing from selling spare parts and offering maintenance, operating the aircraft without such indispensable assistance "cannot last long," Merluzeau added.
Earlier Bermuda's government said there are more than 900 aircraft registered in the tiny territory, which is considered to be a tax haven.
A "significant amount" of those planes are used by commercial Russian air operators, according to BCAA.
Late last month a British MP, Liz Saville-Roberts, told parliament of the need to effectively implement sanctions against Russia's civilian aircraft fleet, saying 713 leased Russian aircraft are registered in Bermuda.