Turkish Executive Jet Operator Fined


A Turkish aviation operator was fined for ferrying passengers into and out of Russia on a US manufactured Gulfstream executive jet without the requisite export license.   The Commerce Department (BIS)  imposed a civil penalty of $285,000 against Sapphire Havacilik San Ltd. STI (Sapphire), an aviation company headquartered in Ankara, Türkiye, to resolve violations of the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA).

  As described in the Settlement Agreement and Proposed Charging Letter, in October 2023 and in January 2024, Sapphire flew private charter flights involving a U.S.-origin Gulfstream aircraft into Russia without a required BIS license.

As part of the BIS settlement, Sapphire admitted to the conduct set forth in a Proposed Charging Letter, which alleged that Sapphire had temporarily reexported to Russia a U.S.-origin Gulfstream aircraft without the required BIS license.  Specifically, in October 2023 and again in January 2024, Sapphire flew the Gulfstream into Russia for private charter flights arranged by Russian nationals. 

Although the Russian national passengers provided payment to Sapphire through third-party non-Russian charter brokers, such flights into Russia—which were arranged for the benefit of the Russian national or nationals on board—were nevertheless controlled by or under charter or lease by a Russian national.  As such, the relevant flights did not fall within license exception Aircraft, Vessels, and Spacecraft (AVS) and violated Section 764.2(a) of the ECRA.

Effective February 24, 2022, BIS imposed expansive controls on aviation-related items to Russia, including a license requirement for the export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) to Russia of any aircraft or aircraft parts specified under any export control classification number.

Additionally, effective March 2, 2022, BIS excluded any aircraft registered in, owned by, controlled by, or under charter or lease by Russia or a national of Russia from being eligible for export or reexport to Russia pursuant to license exception AVS (Section 740.15 of the EAR). 

As a result, any U.S.-origin aircraft or foreign aircraft that includes more than 25% controlled U.S.-origin content, and that is registered in, owned by, controlled by, or under charter or lease by Russia or a national of Russia, is subject to a license requirement before it can be exported or reexported to Russia.

The Order, Settlement Agreement, and Proposed Charging Letter are available here.


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