Russia extends flight ban to Turkey

Russia has extended a flight ban to Turkey until June 21 as part of measures against COVID-19. The decision is expected to deal a further blow to Turkey's tourism industry.

Duvar English

Russia has extended a flight ban to Turkey for another three weeks, The Moscow Times cited Russia's coronavirus response center as saying on May 31. 

Moscow will resume flights with the United Kingdom along with flights to seven other countries in June, it also said. 

Moscow temporarily suspended flights between Russia and the U.K. in late December, after Britain announced it had discovered a highly transmissible strain of COVID-19. 

Russia’s COVID-19 task force said on its social media that Moscow-London passenger flights will resume on June 2 “due to an improved epidemiological situation in the U.K."

Starting June 10, flights will also resume to and from Austria, Hungary, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Morocco and Croatia.

However, the COVID-19 response center said Russia’s flight restrictions to Turkey and Tanzania will stay in place until at least June 21.

Authorities cited rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in both countries, although observers noted that Moscow’s mid-April announcement followed the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statement in support of Ukraine amid a flare-up in tensions.

Turkey is a destination for millions of Russian tourists each year, and Moscow's decision to halt flights has dealt a blow to the Turkish tourism industry.

Erdoğan's spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy visited Russia to discuss the flight ban and vaccine issues. 

"We reached an agreement for the Russian vaccine to come to Turkey as soon as possible as well as steps to be taken for the tourism season, the starting of flights and speeding up the process," Kalın said on May 17. 

Despite the direct flight ban, U.K. citizens have since late April been able to enter Russia via one of the 29 countries with which Russia has resumed regular air connections.

Russia grounded most international flights at the start of its COVID-19 outbreak last spring and has since gradually lifted travel restrictions to countries it deems sufficiently safe.

Most nationals from other countries are still barred from entering Russia on tourist, business and work visas, with exceptions in place for family members of Russian citizens and those holding Highly Qualified Specialist visas.