BEIJING (AP) — China has banned Russian airlines from flying foreign-owned airliners in its airspace, Russian media RBK reported, after President Vladimir Putin questioned the ownership of the planes. allowing them to be re-registered in Russia to avoid seizure under sanctions following Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
The European Union, home to major aircraft leasing companies, banned the sale or lease of planes to Russian carriers in February. Putin responded by approving the re-registration measure in March, suggesting that foreign owners may never get billion-dollar planes back.
China’s aviation regulator last month asked all foreign carriers to update ownership information and other details, RBK said, citing two unidentified sources. He said Russian airlines that could not provide documentation proving their planes were “deregistered overseas” were barred from Chinese airspace.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation and details of the decision.
President Xi Jinping’s government said in February it had a “boundless” friendship with Moscow, but had tried to distance itself from Putin’s war. Beijing has criticized Western sanctions but appears to be avoiding measures that could be seen as helping Moscow for fear of possible sanctions against Chinese companies.