Russia resumes flights to eight more countries

Amid a gradual decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases worldwide, Moscow is proceeding with plans to gradually restore international air traffic suspended last year due to the pandemic.

Russia continues to resume international flights amid pandemic, reports Caspian News. From 10 June, the government allowed flights to the capitals of Albania, Austria, Hungary, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Morocco and Croatia. Russia suspended international air traffic in mid-March 2020 when the novel coronavirus caused a global pandemic. In a bid to contain the spread of the infection, Russia closed its borders for foreigners and allowed only special flights evacuating the country’s citizens from abroad. As a result of the repatriation programme, over 92,000 Russians were returned home from over 70 countries.

From August 2020, Russia started to resume flights to countries with the favourable epidemiological situation. Gradually, air traffic was resumed with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Venezuela, Greece, Germany, Singapore, Serbia, Ethiopia, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea, Egypt, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Finland, Japan, Maldives, Cuba and Seychelles. On 25 May 2021, Russia also resumed flights to and from Iceland, Malta, Mexico, Portugal and Saudi Arabia.

Before resuming flights, the Russian government assesses epidemiological situation in the countries according to three criteria. Flights are permitted to countries with less than 40 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days, where the average daily increase in new cases over the last 14 days is no higher than 1% and where the current rate of virus transmission is less than one.

Meanwhile, Russia’s flight restriction to Turkey, which is normally one of the most popular tourist destinations for Russians, will stay in place at least until 21 June. Air service between the two countries was temporarily restricted by Moscow from 15 April to 1 June, but later the ban was extended erasing Turkey’s hopes to revive its tourism sector. According to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, the move may cost the Turkish tourism industry $334 million alone in June, while Turkish tourism operators estimate losses at more than $500 million.

By Anna Litvina