Havaş, Turkey's largest provider of ground handling services at airports, warned about the risks of servicing imported planes from Russian, Belarusian, Iranian airlines and businessman Roman Abramovich, it was stated in a letter from the head of Havaş Mete Erna, sent to the counterparties on January 31. RBC obtained a copy of the letter and its authenticity was confirmed by three sources in the Russian airlines and an interlocutor close to the authorities.
Havaş belongs to the leading operator of the Turkish airports - the company TAV Airports (it operates in 90 airports in 29 countries) and serves aircraft at the airports of Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, etc.
The list of planes attached to Erna's letter says service may be denied primarily to U.S.-manufactured Boeing aircraft, but also to several European Airbus jetliners. In all, more than 170 Russian airlines, seven Belarusian and four Iranian planes are on the list. The largest operator of these aircraft is Aeroflot, the list also includes airliners of cargo airlines AirBridgeCargo, Azur Air, I Fly, Pegas Fly, Pobeda, Russia, S7, Utair, Ural Airlines, Red Wings, Nordwind and Yamal, as well as Belarusian Belavia and Iranian Iran Air and Mahan Airlines. The letter also mentions business jets Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Gulfstream G650, which, according to the company, belong to Roman Abramovich. Abramovich has no planes in Turkey, his representative told RBC, without answering further questions.
RBC sent inquiries to the press services of the Ministry of Transport, Rosaviatsia, TAV Airports, Havaş and the listed carriers.
The Havaş list includes aircraft that are subject to restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce back in the spring of 2022 in response to the start of Russia's military special operation in Ukraine. Now the provider is studying the legal aspects of the situation and asks the airlines to provide lists of aircraft whose production used no more than 25% of American parts and technology, follows from the letter.
It explains that the company has received information about warning letters sent to representatives of the Turkish aviation industry by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which say that decisions on a number of airlines to temporarily deny service due to "continuing violations of the EAR."
Havaş has launched a due diligence review to assess risks to its business and stakeholders. "As a result, we may not be able to serve some or all of your flights. For these reasons, we ask for a list of aircraft operated by the airline that are built with less than 25 percent U.S.-origin technology... These are the only aircraft that we would be allowed to serve as long as it does not use technology of American origin," the letter says.
Earlier, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), citing sources, wrote that Washington is trying to put pressure on Ankara to stop flights to and from Turkey of American-made aircraft, which belong to foreign leasing companies, but are operated by Russian carriers and were re-registered in Russia last year. According to the newspaper, in December 2022, senior U.S. officials warned of the consequences if the Turkish structures would provide services to such Russian and Belarusian carriers: for example, refueling of aircraft and replacement of spare parts. Among the possible sanctions are fines, loss of export privileges, imprisonment and other measures. WSJ points out that this information was passed to the Turkish side by Assistant Secretary of Commerce Thea Roseman Kendler, who visited Ankara.
According to the airline analysis company Cirium, from October 1, 2022 to the end of January 2023, airlines from Russia and Belarus carried out more than 2,100 flights to Turkey using American Boeing. Among Russian carriers, Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, Pobeda, Red Wings and others fly there. Turkish Pegasus and Turkish Airlines also fly from Russia.
Within two weeks, Havaş will discuss with Russian carriers how to solve the problem, says a source in one of the airlines on the list attached to the letter of Mete Erna
There is no doubt that Russian airlines will retain flights to Turkey and passengers will not be affected, the RBC interlocutor stresses. "There is no ban on flights to Turkey, there are alternative providers of ground handling services in this country, so there should be no problems with the flights," confirms a source in another airline that flies to Turkey.
It's impossible to stop international cooperation because of the decision of a number of states that imposed sanctions against the Russian air transport, as the aviation is "a global system of economic relations," the head of Rosaviatsia Alexander Neradko said in an interview with RBC, published on February 1. According to him, the interaction with the aviation authorities of friendly states, with international organizations working in the field of civil aviation continues. The closest partners the head of the department considers the countries that have not stopped direct flights in Russia, that is, it includes Turkey.