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Grant Shapps grounds Russian oligarch’s private jet at Biggin Hill

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps standing in front of a grounded private jet (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps standing in front of a grounded private jet (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A £35 million private jet owned by Russian billionaire Eugene Shvidler has been banned from flying in the UK as part of sanctions in response to the war in Ukraine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that he has deregistered the aircraft, meaning any certificates in place to permit it to fly have been suspended.

The Cessna aircraft with the tail registration G-LATO is at Biggin Hill Airport, south-east London, where it was due to undergo maintenance and repairs.

It was blocked from leaving on March 19 on the order of Mr Shapps to enable an investigation into its ownership to be carried out.

Mr Shvidler is a friend of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.

He is a former boss and shareholder in Mr Abramovich’s steel firm Evraz, and his net worth has been estimated at £1.2 billion.

A private jet
The private jet is linked to oligarch Eugene Shvidler (Gareth Fuller/PA)

On a visit to Biggin Hill Airport to see the jet, Mr Shapps told the PA news agency: “Russian oligarchs who have benefited from Putin’s regime will not be allowed to just go about their business as they were before this completely unprovoked war started.

“That’s why we’re actually stripping this off the British aircraft register.

“This plane will not be going anywhere for the foreseeable future.”

Another plane owned by Mr Shvidler, a Bombardier Global 6500 jet, has been detained at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire since March 8.

Mr Shapps said finding out who controls private aircraft is often “extremely complex”.

Asked about reports that a private jet held at Luton Airport is linked to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, Mr Shapps replied: “There are a number of aircraft and some other ships as well, yachts, which we’re working very closely with the authorities on.

“We won’t hesitate to make sure that we sanction, detain, strip all of these vessels.”

The Cabinet minister also announced that all Russian aircraft are now classified as “unairworthy in UK eyes” because “they’re now not being serviced properly” due to sanctions.

The planes were already banned from UK airspace following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On March 29, Mr Shapps ordered the detention of the £38 million superyacht Phi owned by an unnamed Russian businessman in Canary Wharf, east London.

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