Isle of Man Register Ditches Russian Jets

The island nation established the registry in 2007 to attract privately owned aircraft with tax-efficient mechanisms.

The offshore Isle of Man Aircraft Registry (IOMAR) has removed 18 aircraft associated with Russian individuals and companies sanctioned for their connections with the Kremlin. Isle of Man authorities this week confirmed that they are urgently taking steps to ensure that their jurisdiction supports the sanctions imposed by the U.K. government, given its close compliance with the requirements of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

IOMAR was established in 2007 with the specific intention of attracting only privately owned aircraft with the lure of tax-efficient mechanisms and combining what it calls a “flexible and pragmatic approach” with high standards of safety. Since then, more than 1,000 aircraft have carried M-registration tail numbers, and around 400 are on the register today.

But the Isle of Man’s chief minister, Alfred Cannan, last week said it “will not be a safe haven for Russian money or assets." The island, located in the Irish Sea between the British mainland and Northern Ireland, defers to the U.K. in matters relating to international relations. It also has been acting in accordance with European Union sanctions.

“The air and ship registries have been acting proactively and rapidly to halt business with Russian connections above and beyond those already sanctioned on the U.K.’s lists,” said Isle of Man enterprise minister Alex Allinson. “Since the start of the [Ukraine] conflict, we have been working to remove aircraft and ships and yachts with Russian connections and a detailed review is already underway in partnership with relevant agencies to establish any further connections with Russia and ensure that appropriate steps are taken in a robust and timely fashion."

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Isle of Man's Council of Ministers said it is ready to impose further restrictions to apply more pressure on Russia. The unprecedented wave of international sanctions has prompted discussion about potential loopholes allowing individuals to disguise their ownership of assets using shell companies. In this context, an Isle of Man government statement issued on March 16 said it maintains full transparency over its tax regime, automatically exchanges information with companies worldwide, and has committed to a public register of beneficial ownership.

IOMAR released a list of the 18 aircraft deregistered to date. These carry the following tail numbers: M-ABEC, M-AKER, M-ALEY, M-DLBA, M-DLBR, M-FLIG, M-HAWK, M-HELI, M-IABU, M-INSK, M-LUNA, M-LVIA, M-MAVP, M-RONE, M-SOLA, M-SOLO, M-TINK, and M-YSSF. Further details can be found in the online registry.

Earlier this week, the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority suspended the airworthiness certificates of all airplanes operating under an agreement between Bermuda and the Russian Federation. The provisional suspension took effect March 12, effectively requiring what the agency characterized as “a significant number” of the more than 900 mostly commercial airplanes flying under the U.K. overseas territory’s oversight to reregister in Russia to operate. More than 500 airplanes operate under foreign registry in Russia.