Turkish business jet charter company Air Sapphire has been heavily fined by the US government for flying a Gulfstream GIV to Russia without authorisation.

The Bureau of Industry and Security has imposed a $285,000 penalty against the Ankara-based company – under its name Sapphire Havacilik – for breaching export controls.

It states that the company flew the Gulfstream (TC-GLF) from Istanbul to Tyumen, carrying two Russian nationals, on 13 October last year.

The aircraft was also used to transport a citizen of Russia from the Maldives to Moscow around 21 January this year.

tcglf-c- Air Sapphire

Source: Air Sapphire

Air Sapphire carried out two flights to Russia with the GIV

While payment to Air Sapphire was submitted through a non-Russian third-party charter broker, the US bureau states that both flights were nevertheless controlled by, or under charter, from Russian nationals.

By “temporarily re-exporting” the US-built aircraft to Russia without a licence, says the bureau, the carrier breached export controls on aviation-related items, including luxury goods, imposed over the Ukrainian conflict.

Air Sapphire “admitted to the conduct” as part of a settlement, the bureau points out, and “co-operated and assisted” with the investigation.

“It doesn’t matter if a Russian national uses another passport – like from Cyprus as was the case here,” says assistant secretary for export enforcement Matthew Axelrod.

“Let this serve as a lesson to charter brokers and operators worldwide: if you facilitate such travel in violation of our regulations, you may pay a steep price.”