Order lifted on Moldovan aircraft detained at Dublin airport

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The Airbus aircraft was grounded by the court on February 5th arising out of a €4.2 million arbitration award to Just-US Air Srl against the Air Moldova firm.
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Ann O'Loughlin

A High Court order detaining an aircraft at Dublin Airport in a dispute over payment of a leasing award was today discharged after a settlement had been reached following talks between the parties.

The dispute was between a Romanian aircraft leasing firm, Just-US Air Srl, and Compania Aeriana "Air Moldova" Srl.

The Airbus aircraft was grounded by the court on February 5th arising out of a €4.2 million arbitration award to Just-US Air Srl against the Air Moldova firm.

It had been due to return to Chisinau International Airport in Moldova and over 20 passengers as well as the aircraft's crew were stranded in Ireland as result of the order. The court was told the people affected by the order had been accommodated.

Moldovan investigation

The court heard the airline had assets seized by Moldova 's Agency for the Recovery of Criminal Assets in 2019 as part of an investigation into alleged criminal activity, including money laundering.

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Air Moldova was the State-owned national airline of that country until it was privatised in 2018.

Just-US Srl claimed it obtained an internationally recognised, final and binding award of €4.2m from a Romanian arbitrator following an arbitration regarding lease of an aircraft. It claimed the award has not been paid and it has sought to enforce the arbitration against Air Moldova in this jurisdiction.

The aircraft was, however, owned in an owner-trustee capacity by Bank of Utah while its head lessee was JET-i 2849 Leasing Ltd and its managing agent was BBAM Aviation service which managed the lease to Air Moldova for Bank of Utah. Those three were formally joined as notice parties in the case on Friday by the court.

JET-I 2819 Leasing, as lessor, had entered into a lease arrangement with Air Moldova for the aircraft.

Claimed interference

In correspondence, solicitors for the owner and the other two companies complained the actions of Just-US Air Srl constituted interference with the ownership of the aircraft and that the rights of the owner took priority over any interest of Air Moldova as lessee.

The aircraft remained detained as talks continued over the last couple of weeks between all the parties.

On Friday, Martin Hayden SC, for Just-US Air, said the parties had reached a resolution and certain orders could be made by the court.

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A "touch of clarity" was still required in relation to certain language used but the freezing order on the aircraft could be vacated and the matter adjourned finally to next Tuesday when counsel expected the proceedings could be struck out.

Paul Sreenan SC, for the notice parties, said there was consent to the order.

Mr Justice Barniville noted agreement had been reached and discharged the order of February 5 restraining removal of the Airbus.

He adjourned final matters to next Tuesday and congratulated the parties for all the work they had put in to resolving what was a "tricky issue."

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