11 APRIL 2022


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Article from BTNews 11 APRIL 2022

COMMENT: Russia and the airlines *

The Russian news agency TASS reported that restrictions on flights from Russia to 52 countries would be cancelled from April 9. These restrictions were put in place, they say, to slow the spread of Covid and are being lifted on the advice of the operational headquarters for combatting coronavirus.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced the move, which he says applies to "friendly states".

"Starting from April 9 we are lifting restrictions set for combatting coronavirus pandemic, which applied to our regular and charter flights between Russia and a number of other countries. Now we are resuming flights with 52 countries, including Argentina, India, South Africa and other friendly states."

Mishustin added that earlier, it was possible to fly to 15 countries without restrictions, including some states of the EAEU (the Eurasian Economic Union), Qatar, Mexico, and others.

The EAEU is an economic union of Russia and its 'near neighbours', formed after the demise of the Soviet Union to foster trade and development. It's often seen as a foil to the European Union's influence, and key member states are Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

The TASS statement lists all 52 states where flights can be resumed, which can be loosely grouped as being in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South and Central America.

Some of the countries that can fly to and from Russia from April 9 include Brazil, China, Turkey, Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa, North Korea, Seychelles and Saudi Arabia.

While part of Russia's retaliation to economic sanctions was to close its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, international flights are already arriving and departing from Russia on a daily basis.

Despite sanctions there are plenty of ways in and out already.

Emirates is already flying its Airbus A380s from Dubai to Moscow, treading a popular path through the gulf and central Asia.

A quick scan of today's flight boards at Moscow's two airports, Sheremetyevo (SVO) and Domodedovo (DME), show carriers including Emirates Airlines, Air Arabia, Etihad Airways, SriLankan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air China, and Air Serbia operating international flights.

Flightradar24.com data shows a popular track of flights from Dubai crossing Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and through Russia to Moscow, such as Emirates Airlines EK133 and Aeroflot SU527. This is a simple corridor from Russia to the Middle East, where connections can be made to all of those 'friendly countries' the Russian prime minister talks so fondly of.

While Russia is now the world's most sanctioned country, ahead of Iran, Syria, and North Korea, it is not facing sanctions from countries in Central and South America, Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Asia, apart from Japan.

With all of those regions open to them, Russian airlines have a large and safe playing field in which to operate. Presumably, the lack of sanctions means refuelling the aircraft or fixing any MRO niggles will not be an issue.

Going in the other direction, large markets like China, India, Africa, and South America will be able to connect with Russia for trade, tourism, and general travel.

Perhaps even the oligarchs will get their Gulfstreams and Globals out again and head out for some summer sun, well beyond the reach of the authorities who would confiscate their aircraft and leave them stranded.

This article is reproduced with thanks and without further clarification from SIMPLE FLYING.



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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Chris Pocock, Uxbridge, UK

What aircraft are they going to use? Aeroflot is mainly Airbus-equipped, and therefore sanctioned.

David Bentley, Manchester/UK

The tenet of this article is pro-Russian and should not have been published. Emirates is a disgrace; Clark stating that he is content with the Russian operation, which is making money and it exists because the Dubai government has not told him not to operate. Evidently he does not have a conscience.

John Hopkins, Glasgow

I’ve been wanting to get this off my chest since the Ukraine war broke out and Putin was shown for what he is. Let us hope the Russians will deal with him as the Italians dealt with Mussolini.

Jade single, United Kingdom

At some point of time the sanctions will catch up with Aeroflot, these days a fine airline. But it supports Putin. I’ve flown on them, but no longer.