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US fines Turkish airline for flights to Russia

US fines Turkish airline for flights to Russia Archive photo: The US has fined a Turkish airline for flights to Russia (Getty Images)
Author: Daryna Vialko

The Turkish charter company Air Sapphire was fined by the US government for the flight of a Gulfstream aircraft to Russia in violation of export regulations, according to FlightGlobal.

The US Bureau of Industry and Security has imposed a $285,000 fine on Ankara-based Sapphire Havacilik for export control violations.

On October 13 last year, the company flew a Gulfstream aircraft from Istanbul to Tyumen with two Russian citizens.

The plane was also used to transport a Russian citizen from the Maldives to Moscow around January 21 this year.

The company pleaded guilty

The payment to Air Sapphire was made through a non-Russian third-party charter broker, but the US bureau claims that both flights were controlled by Russian citizens.

The agency explained that the company had temporarily re-exported US-made aircraft to Russia without a license and thus violated export controls on aviation goods.

Air Sapphire admitted to the violation as part of a settlement agreement, cooperated and assisted in the investigation.

“It doesn’t matter if a Russian national uses another passport – like from Cyprus as was the case here,” says assistant secretary for export enforcement Matthew Axelrod.

Aviation industry under sanctions

Due to sanctions imposed by Western countries against Russia, there are significant restrictions on air travel to Russia.

The European Union, the United States and other countries have banned their airlines from flying to Russia and using its airspace. Russian airlines are also prohibited from flying to these countries and flying through their airspace.

Russia is trying to circumvent the sanctions and is looking for suppliers of parts for its aircraft. In April, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that two Russians were supplying aviation equipment to Russia to circumvent the restrictions.