After being held for four days, the plane of the Russian airline Aeroflot left Sri Lanka on Monday and headed for Moscow on Monday afternoon. A court suspended an injunction prevented the flight from leaving the island due to the termination of a private agreement as a result of the sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.
“On June 2, 2022, the Western Province High Court of Commerce issued a ban order on Aeroflot’s flight preventing it from taking off from Bandaranaike International Airport,” the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in a statement at the time. Lanka. In this way, the airplane stayed at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, the country’s capital, with 191 passengers and 13 crew members on board.
According to the EFE agency, it all started with a commercial dispute between the Irish Celestial Aviation, one of the largest aircraft leasing firms, and Aeroflot. After that, a Sri Lankan court ordered to stop the departure of the aircraft. The owner of the plane had argued in court that the flight of the Russian airline did not have permission to take off after it terminated the lease in March in line with sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.
Despite being a purely commercial issue that had to be dealt with without the involvement of the Sri Lankan government, according to the airport and aviation services, the legal dispute strained relations between Russia and the island country.
After learning that the plane could not leave for the Russian capital as planned, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the Sri Lankan ambassador to her country for consultations to protest the order, while Aeroflot suspended the rest of its flights to the island country, reported the Russian news agency Tass.
The essential role that Russia plays in the battered Sri Lankan economy caused hundreds of people to organize a peaceful protest this Monday in front of the Russian embassy in Colombo where they handed the ambassador a letter of apology to President Vladimir Putin, in an attempt to “protect the peace”. between the two nations.
Subsequently, and without the ruling that allowed the flight to leave being known, they delivered a statement to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, asking for an early resolution of the conflict. “We cannot tolerate this. This is going to affect the friendly relations that Sri Lanka and Russia have had over the years,” the president of the Alliance of Professional Tourist Guides, WN Sampath Perera, told Efe.
Russia remains Sri Lanka’s second largest tourism market, according to statistics from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, so a suspension of Russian tourism would be a serious loss for the island country.