Carlyle seeks $700m over insurers’ failure to pay Russian plane seizures
Carlyle Aviation Partners, one of the world’s largest aircraft leasing operators, is seeking $700 million from more than 30 insurers and reinsurers after they failed to pay for the seizure of jets by Russian airlines.
The lawsuit, filed in Florida late Monday, includes a claim that insurers, including U.S.-based AIG, Axis and Chubb, acted in bad faith on policies covering 23 planes since the war in Ukraine.
The lawsuit could allow a jury to award Carlyle more than $700 million in damages, which the company is seeking, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Carlyle Aviation Partners, part of investment firm Carlyle Group, is one of many landlords vying for restore the plane Leased to Russian airlines before Russia’s attack on Ukraine on February 24.
Russian carriers, acting on an official order, took control about 500 aircraft worth about 10 billion dollars, leased from foreign companies. They ignored the demands of the lessors to return the planes.
The case was brought by the British and American units of Carlyle Aviation, referred to in the suit as the “Carlyle plaintiffs.” It alleged nine separate breaches of contract by the insurers.
“In flagrant breach of their contractual obligations and months after the Carlyle plaintiffs first notified the defendants of the covered damages, the defendants failed to recover those damages,” the lawsuit states.
Although the action stated that the policyholders had given no reason for their non-payment, the policyholders in other cases insist that the planes, which are normally still in use in Russia, were not lost.
There have also been questions in other cases as to whether claims should be made under the insured companies’ war risk coverage or other policies.
Carlyle’s statement said the insurers “breached their duty of good faith” by failing to evaluate the company’s claim in a timely or serious manner.
“Defendants failed to provide a timely assessment or determination of these claims, despite the fact that the claims were presented in March 2022, and despite the fact that the full particulars of claim were provided several months prior to the filing of this complaint “, the documents say.
The claim alleged that the insurers also systematically denied or delayed the assessment of insurance claims made by other claimants in situations similar to Carlyle’s.
The Carlyle case involves 16 Boeing and seven Airbus planes leased by 12 different airlines, according to court filings. The largest group of aircraft are five Boeing jets leased by Utair, a regional airline based in Western Siberia.
Most of the planes are in Russia, although one Boeing Azur Airlines plane was detained in Egypt.
Egyptian authorities have refused to cooperate, according to legal documents, although they said the Egyptians recently indicated they could release the plane if Carlyle paid airport storage fees.
The case names 35 insurers and reinsurers as defendants, including one consortium of military risk insurers operating in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market and 19 syndicates of Lloyd’s underwriters.
None of the insurers involved wanted to comment.
Carlyle Aviation Partners said it was filing the lawsuit because it had “exhausted all options” to recover the plane and was not compensated as required by the insurance policy.
“We fulfilled all the obligations under the insurance policy designed for this type of risk in this situation,” the company noted.