World’s top insurers to face aircraft leasers in High Court ‘mega trial’ over planes seized by Russia
Insurance giants Lloyd’s, AIG and Fidelis are set to face a ‘mega trial’ in London’s High Court over their refusal to pay out billions in insurance claims to aircraft leasers that had their planes seized by President Vladimir Putin.
A High Court judge has ruled claims brought forward by an array of the world’s biggest aircraft leasers should be heard together, in a single trial, that will be heard in London in October 2024.
More than 400 aircraft, worth almost $10bn, have been stuck in Russia after Western powers imposed sanctions on the country, following its invasion of Ukraine.
Major aircraft leasers later began suing their insurers, after they failed to pay out for the aircraft that had been seized.
The lawsuits include a $3.5bn claim brought forward by Irish firm AerCap, which had 141 of its planes seized by Russia, court documents show.
Lloyd’s of London is also facing a £735m claim, brought forward against it by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise Ltd (DAE) over Russia’s seizure of its planes.
Russian airlines subsequently began stripping the seized planes for parts, due to being unable to purchase spare parts elsewhere as a result of Western sanctions.
A coalition of the world’s major aircraft leasers – including AerCap, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise and Merx – will now face the insurers in court, in what experts speaking to City A.M. referred to as a ‘mega trial’.
The insurers are instead seeking to argue they should not be forced to pay out on the claims, in claiming the leasers could still theoretically see their planes returned.
Insurers will also argue they should be exempt from making payouts due to war exclusion clauses in the aircraft leasers’ policies.
They are also claiming that, even if the leasers are eligible to receive payouts, they would be unable to make any payments due to the restrictions imposed on them by Western sanctions.
A Lloyd’s of London spokesperson said: “Lloyd’s is not at liberty to share information on any specific claim, policy or policyholder, nor can we comment on matters in litigation.”
AIG declined to comment. Fidelis was approached by City A.M. for comment. Lawyers for the aircraft leasers also declined to comment.