Air Lease to write off $802m in charges for planes stranded in Russia

Move involves 21 company-owned planes and six jets in its managed fleet, and will be reflected in its first-quarter earnings report on May 5

Air Lease earlier this month confirmed an initial pact for 32 Boeing 737 Max jets. AP

Air Lease Corporation announced it would be writing off the value of the remaining 27 aircraft it has in Russia, which is expected to lead to charges of around $802 million.

The Los Angeles-based lessor said in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday the move involves 21 company-owned planes and six jets in its managed fleet.

The write-off in Russia – severely hit with sanctions because of its military offensive in Ukraine – will be reflected in the company's first-quarter earnings report, which is scheduled for May 5, it said.

"The United States, European Union, United Kingdom and others have imposed, and may continue to impose, economic sanctions and export controls against certain industry sectors and parties in Russia in connection with the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine," it said in the filing.

"In response to the sanctions, the company terminated the leasing of all aircraft leased to Russian airlines. The company has determined that it is unlikely that the company will regain possession of the aircraft that have not been returned and that remain in Russia.

"The company determined that it expects to record a write-off of its interests in its owned and managed fleet that remain in Russia, totaling approximately $802.4m."

The West has led crippling economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia as it tries to choke off the country's access to markets in response to its aggression on Ukraine. This is aside from several global brands in key industries either suspending its operations in the country or leaving altogether.

The Kremlin retaliated on Thursday, slapping travel bans on US Vice President Kamala Harris, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and several other prominent Americans and Canadians, including from the media.

Air travel, meanwhile, is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic as governments lift restrictions and population immunity grows as vaccination rates rise.

A recent survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets by the International Air Transport Association (Iata) showed increasing momentum towards reopening borders.

Global air passenger traffic is on track to rebound to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, although the Russia-Ukraine conflict poses near-term risks, Iata said in March. EPA

The survey revealed 25 markets representing 38 per cent of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine measures or testing requirements — up from 18 markets in mid-February.

Global passenger traffic is on track to rebound to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, although the Russia-Ukraine conflict poses near-term risks, Iata said in March. The number of travellers is expected to reach four billion in 2024, more than double pre-coronavirus levels recorded in 2019, it said.

Air Lease – which earlier this month confirmed an initial pact for 32 Boeing 737 Max jets – previously disclosed it had approximately 3.4 per cent of its fleet by net book value on lease to customers in Russia as of March 31.

It does not expect the write-off to result in material future cash expenditures. The company is also "vigorously" pursuing insurance claims to recover losses as a result of this move.

"These forward-looking statements are only predictions and involve estimates, known and unknown risks, assumptions and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in such statements," Air Lease said.

Updated: April 23, 2022, 10:30 AM
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