Aeroflot has resumed passenger flights to Sri Lanka, months after they were suspended following a legal dispute, after a Colombo court lifted a ban on the carrier’s detained Airbus A330 wide-body plane from leaving the country.
The Russian flag carrier resumed its twice-weekly passenger services between Moscow (SVO) and Colombo (CMB) in Sri Lanka on October 9, 2022, according to Ria Novosti, and plans to gradually increase the flight frequency in the future.
The airline will also resume regular flights to Bangkok (BKK) and Goa (GOI) on October 30, 2022.
Seizure and detention
Aeroflot suspended flights to Colombo after one of its A330 planes was seized by local aviation authorities at CMB airport on June 2, 2022, in line with international sanctions.
The plane, which Aeroflot leased from Irish Celestial Aviation Trading, was supposed to turn around for flight SU 289 back to Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) in Russia on the same day it was detained, but the flight was delayed and later canceled.
At the time, the Aeroflot Airbus A330-343 wide-body jet, which holds the double registration VQ-BMY and RA-73702, had been banned from leaving the island until at least June 16, 2022.
Two days after the jet had been detained, on June 4, 2022, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry explained that the Commercial High Court of the Western Province had issued an Enjoining Order on the Aeroflot flight, restraining it from taking off from Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB).
“The case relates to a commercial dispute between the Plaintiff, Celestial Aviation Trading 10 Limited, an Irish Company, against the first Defendant the Public Joint Stock Company “Aeroflot” and the second Defendant, Mr. N. C Abeywardene/Acting Head of Air Navigation/Airport and Aviation Services of Sri Lanka (AASL), Katunayake,” the Foreign Ministry said.
In response, Aeroflot suspended commercial flights and ticket sales to Colombo on the same day, citing “the uncertainty about unimpeded airline flights to Sri Lanka”.
On June 6, 2022, the Colombo Commercial High Court suspended the previous detention order preventing the Aeroflot aircraft from leaving Sri Lanka, and the plane returned to the airline’s base at SVO airport in Moscow a short time later.
However, the carrier continued to suspend passenger flights to the country for a total of four months.