An Airbus A220-300 Swiss International Air Lines jet.

Airbus Seeks to Avert Sanctions on Russian Titanium

April 13, 2022
The jet-builder continues to source the critical material from one of the world’s major suppliers, and cautions the EU against widening its restrictions on Russian commodities exports.

Airbus SA is hoping to discourage the European Union from imposing wider sanctions on Russian commodities, as it continues to source titanium from suppliers there. The aerospace group’s CEO this week urged the EU not to block exports of the critical material. In comments at the Airbus annual shareholder meeting, CEO Guillaume Faury said sanctions on titanium would injure the European aerospace sector and do relatively little to influence Russian policies.

Faury also noted that Airbus continues to seek out non-Russian suppliers of titanium, and offered that its current titanium requirements are not in danger of shortage.

Titanium is a critical material in aerospace design and manufacturing due to its high strength-to-weight ratio, as well as formability and heat resistance. It’s used in airframe structures, engines, and numerous critical components that include landing gear, fasteners, springs, and pneumatic tubes.

VSMPO-Avisma Corp. is the Russian mining and metallurgical products firm that controls nearly 25% of the world’s titanium metal and alloys market, and it is 25% owned by the state-controlled defense firm, Rostec.

Boeing Co., the primary rival to Airbus in the commercial aerospace industry, last month announced it had suspended its imports of Russian titanium. Both Airbus and Boeing have suspended their direct activities in Russia since the war began, including training and service programs.

Reportedly, Airbus relies on Russian supplies for half of its total titanium requirements, which includes titanium parts received from its suppliers.

"Sanctions on Russian titanium would hardly harm Russia, because they only account for a small part of export revenues there. But they would massively damage the entire aerospace industry across Europe," according to an Airbus spokesperson quoted by Reuters.

The EU sanctions on Russia since that country invaded Ukraine have been mainly directed at financial and consumer products, not commodities – except for steel and coal. Recently, the EU is known to be considering wider sanctions in order to increase pressure on Russia to end its occupation.

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