AirBridgeCargo is reportedly returning two of its Boeing freighters to their Chinese owners two years after they were grounded due to sanctions related to the war in Ukraine.


Source: AirBridgeCargo

Russian publication RBC reports that the freighter airline is returning two of its Boeing 747Fs to the Bank of China Aviation (BOC Aviation). RBC said the first aircraft (VP-BIN) was flown from Sheremetyevo International Airport to Shanghai on March 12. Flight tracking website Flightradar 24 confirms the flight took place. The return date of the second aircraft (VQ-BFU) is unknown.

The return of the aircraft comes after BOC Aviation was last year awarded more than USD400 million in damages by a US court over defaults relating to three leased Boeing 747-8Fs.

The situation emerged after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, after which international sanctions were imposed on Russian carriers and lessors sought to retrieve their aircraft.

As a result of the Ukrainian conflict, the European Union prohibited insurance and reinsurance of aircraft used by Russian carriers. Having been notified of reinsurance cancellation for the 747-8Fs, BOC informed AirBridgeCargo that it would not be able to continue operating the jets in Russia because the reinsurance situation no longer met the lease agreement terms.

All three aircraft were outside of Russia – in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Zhengzhou – on March 2, 2022, when BOC issued a grounding notice to the carrier. BOC formally issued default notices to the carrier for all three aircraft, and demanded their return, but it has only been able to retrieve one from Hong Kong, which was ferried to Arizona on March 25, 2022. The other two aircraft were flown from their location in China to Russia the day after BOC issued the default notices.

According to FlightRadar24, the carrier still has 12 Boeing 747-8Fs (including the two being returned), three 747-400Fs and a single 777F in its fleet, although not all are leased.

This article was first published by HLPFI’s sister publication Air Cargo News