Pressure on some Irish-linked aircraft lessors over planes leased in Belarus

EU foreign ministers are discussing new economic sanctions against the country

EU foreign ministers are discussing new economic sanctions on Belarus amid pressure on some Irish aircraft lessors over aircraft they lease to state airline Belavia. At issue is the alleged use of aircraft to traffic migrants from the Middle East to the EU’s external borders by the authorities in Minsk.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has indicated that Ireland will back new sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, although he said that breaking existing contracts would be legally complex. But who exactly carries out this business with Belarus?

Data from CH Aviation, a specialist Swiss consultancy, suggests that several lessors with Irish links have an exposure to Belavia.

The biggest is Danish-headquartered Nordic Aviation Capital, which uses special purpose vehicles based in Ireland to carry out some of its trade. It leases a total of seven planes in Belarus: four Embraer 175s and three Embraer 195s. Like other lessors in business with Belavia, there was no comment from Nordic Aviation Capital on the political discussions among foreign ministers.


Dublin-based Aercap, the world’s biggest lessor, has six planes with the country, according to CH Aviation: three Boeing 737s and three Embraer 195-E2s. “We have no comment to make,” said a spokeswoman.

It was the same story as SMBC, which leases one 737 to Belarus. There was no reply from US-based Altavair, which uses an Irish special purpose vehicle to lease two 737s to Belarus, according to data, and no either reply from Thunderbolt, which leases one 737 to the country.

Although CH Aviation data suggests WNG leases one 737 in Belarus, a spokeswoman said the company does “not have any aircraft on lease in that jurisdiction”.

As debate intensifies on new sanctions against Minsk, this would not appear to be a growth business.