A Russian-operated airplane was seized in Sri Lanka shortly before it was due to return to Moscow with nearly 200 people on board, airport bosses said. The Aeroflot Airbus A330 — which had arrived from Moscow earlier in the day — was not allowed to return following an order from Colombo Commercial Court, said an official for Bandaranaike International Airport, which is just north of the capital.
Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, suspended all international flights in March following tough Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but resumed operations to Colombo in April.
Russia’s civil aviation body had “recommended” that Russian airlines operating rental planes registered in foreign countries cease flights abroad, to avoid the seizure of the planes in connection with the sanctions. It was not immediately clear if the detention of flight SU289 was related to those sanctions.
“Air traffic control received an order to hold SU289,” the official said, asking not to be named. “We are not aware of the reason, but we hear it is something to do with a commercial dispute.”
All passengers and crew disembarked from the aircraft and were accommodated in hotels, representatives for the airport said. There was no immediate comment from Aeroflot in Colombo.