Turkish gambit: Kazan citizens fly to Antalya many hours late

Red Wings airline has warned the tour operator about delays with flights to the resort in the next two days

Turkish gambit: Kazan citizens fly to Antalya many hours late
Photo: Maksim Platonov

As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, a “flight” collapse in the Turkish direction has broken out at the Kazan International Airport. Almost 200 Tatarstan citizens who purchased tours from the national tourist operator Intourist could not fly to Antalya on time on 14 July. The delay was more than 10 hours, and this is not yet a record for postponing the departure time. According to Kazan tourists, Red Wings charter carrier, chartered by Intourist, had to postpone the departure due to the removal of the A321 aircraft from the flight for technical reasons and look for a replacement for it. The failure of one of the aircraft “broke” the schedule: several more charter flights to Antalya, carried out on Intourist tours, will be postponed for the coming days.

With a delay of half a day

At the Kazan International Airport, the departure of the charter flight to the most popular Turkish destination Kazan-Antalya was delayed for almost ten hours. The charter flight of Red Wings airline under the number IN7075 was supposed to leave at night, at 1.30 Moscow time, and actually took off at 1 pm, it follows from the airport's online schedule.

Accordingly, the arrival time also shifted: instead of the announced 4:50 am, tourists were at the Antalya airport after lunch. The Airbus 321 passenger liner, on which the Kazan residents flew, was fully chartered by the national tourist operator Intourist. According to Kazan residents, there were about 200 people in it. Seats in blocks on this flight were not sold for customers of other tour operators. Therefore, only those who purchased tours from Intourist were on board the plane.

To fly from Kazan, they had to spend several hours in the waiting room of the Kazan airport. The exact time of departure remained unknown for a long time. After the first two hours of waiting, passengers began to call the travel agents, and after explanations, they had no choice but to accept and just wait. After a five-hour wait, they were offered a hot meal, as it must be in such situations.

Charter flight of Red Wings airline under the number IN7075 was supposed to leave at night, at 1.30 Moscow time, and actually took off at 1 pm, it follows from the airport's online schedule. Photo: Maksim Platonov

“All our clients arrived safely in Antalya, all have been accomodated," the representative office of Intourist told Realnoe Vremya.

The Intourist call centre confirmed the fact of more than a ten-hour delay, stating that this is the first incident in the practice of the air carrier.

“Until now, the airline has operated flights strictly on schedule," an operator on the hotline said.

The Kazan office of Intourist explained to the relatives of the passengers that there were no company managers accompanying them on this flight, and tourists were to board on their own. Strictly speaking, they were not supposed to be there, travel agents explained to Realnoe Vremya. According to them, the departure of tourists at the airport for visa-free destinations is not currently being carried out. The stands of tour operators that have remained from the “pre-covid” times, which they simply did not have time to remove, are confusing.

We should add that before that, the previous Red Wings charter flight from Kazan also took off with an eleven-hour delay. According to the airport's online schedule, the flight IN7029 was supposed to depart on 13 July at 1:55 pm Moscow time, but actually took off after midnight — at 1:00 am Moscow time on 14 July. There were also about 200 Intourist tourists on board. On 15 July, there was another Red Wings flight to Antalya at 4 am.

Intourist call centre confirmed the fact of more than a ten-hour delay, stating that this is the first incident in the practice of the air carrier. Photo: yandex.ru

Reason is that one side failed due to technical reasons

The Russian air carrier, Red Wings, has not yet commented on the failures in the flight schedule. Realnoe Vremya sent requests to the company's press service, but no responses were received at the time of publication.

In turn, the press service of Intourist stated that “they cannot comment on the working situation of the air carrier”.

Meanwhile, the relatives of passengers from the delayed flights were informally explained that the reason for the postponement of the departure was the decommissioning of the A321 aircraft, which was supposed to fly to Kazan from Moscow. Allegedly, technical problems were found in it, which is why the airline's management decided not to let it into the sky. “No one will risk the safety of passengers in the sky," the representative of Intourist said in an informal conversation. For this reason, it took a long time to find a spare board and put it on the line.

The sudden failure of the A321 caused cascading postponements with the departure of the following flights. According to the sources of Realnoe Vremya, in the morning, information was received from the head office of Intourist that other flights to Antalya may be postponed for several hours in the coming days. Unofficially, Intourist noticed that within two days the backlog can be eliminated. Apparently, the airline plans to have time to carry out repair work on the plane in a short time. If the aircraft is repaired, then flights resumes according to the schedule.

Unofficially, charter carriers explain the postponements by that the flight schedule is not final, it may change in one direction or another with a plus of five hours. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Is postponement for five hours the norm?

The press service of the Kazan International Airport also limited itself to confirming the fact of flight delays, asking to contact the air carrier directly for details.

“On July 13, the departure of the Kazan-Antalya flight was carried out with a delay of about 10 hours," says the response received by Realnoe Vremya. “Representatives of the airline worked with passengers in accordance with the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAP-82, providing drinks, food and hotel accommodation).”

It is worth noting that this is not the first case of delays with departures in the Turkish direction. Unofficially, charter carriers explain the postponements by that the flight schedule is not final, it may change in one direction or another with a plus of five hours.

They were allowed to arrive with an overdue PCR tests

The delay in the departure of the flight is unpleasant not only because of the loss of tourist's rest time. With the introduction of mandatory PCR testing, the validity period of the COVID-19 tests ends for those departing with a long delay in time. According to the rules for crossing the border and entering Turkey in the pandemic, a tourist is required to have a PCR test done 72 hours before arriving in the country. Thus, tourists sometimes have to take repeated PCR tests, which means that they have to bear additional costs.

How did the incident with Intourist's clients end? According to the tourists, the Antalya airport was informed about the delay in the departure of their flight, and an agreement was reached with the Turkish aviation authorities to allow tourists with expired Covid-19 tests to enter the country.

Thus, tourists sometimes have to take repeated PCR tests, which means that they have to bear additional costs. Photo: Ilya Repin

The representative office of Intourist explained that the Turkish aviation authorities are quite loyal to the validity period of the PCR test — the fact that the tourist has the results of the test is important to them.

“Most of all, Russian airlines themselves find fault with the expiration dates of the test, since in case of refusal to accept tourists, they will have to bear the costs of their deportation and export back to Russia," the travel agents said.

Flight delays in the Turkish direction happen, Kazan travel agents said. Usually, from half an hour to 5-6 hours is added to the scheduled departure time.

Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan