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Russia closed flights with Turkey: how it will affect those who fly to / from the United States

Due to the increase in the number of infections, Russia stopped for a month and a half, until June 1, flights to Turkey and Tanzania, writes "RBK"... This will affect not only tourists, but also those who fly to the United States. Istanbul is a huge interchange hub, and many of our compatriots flew to the United States and back through Turkey. How to get there now?

Photo: Shutterstock

The operational headquarters to prevent the import and spread of the new coronavirus infection COVID-19 in Russia decided to suspend flights of Russian passenger airlines to all airports in Turkey and Tanzania for a month and a half - from April 15 to June 1. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova and head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova announced this at a government briefing on Monday evening, April 12.

Exceptions are made only for export flights, as well as for maintaining on a reciprocal basis two flights a week Moscow - Istanbul, Istanbul - Moscow.

Getting from Russia to the United States will become much more difficult. It will also not be possible to make a transplant in Europe, the order banning entry from the Schengen area and the UK is still in force: on January 21, US President Joe Biden extended it.

Recall that according to CDC, those who have been to any of the countries such as Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, cannot enter the United States, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican or Great Britain, including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland. Exceptions are citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States, certain family members, and other persons.

As a result, only direct flights remain, which are often significantly more expensive.

Why did you decide to suspend flights

The decision was made due to the increase in the number of cases of coronavirus (including new strains) in Turkey and Tanzania. According to Popova, in Russia the situation with the pandemic is "stabilizing", although "the rate of decline in the incidence has slowed down."

In Russia, 45 cases of coronavirus have recently been registered per 100 thousand of the population, in Turkey - 445 cases, Russian officials cited (they did not announce data on Tanzania). According to the American Johns Hopkins University, only 509 cases of coronavirus infection have been registered in Tanzania since the beginning of the pandemic, of which 21 people have died (similar data from the World Health Organization; the latest update dates on the situation in the country from international organizations are May 2020). A month ago, on March 17, the 61-year-old President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, died of coronavirus, who denied scientific ways to combat the pandemic and said that there was no virus in his country. The Russian authorities are also concerned about the detected cases of malaria among the Russians who arrived from Tanzania. According to Popova's data, 11 cases of malaria were brought to Russia from this country last year, and since the beginning of this year there have been two more cases with a severe course of the disease.

“We have not seen any stabilization in the world yet. Of the 30 countries with which we have open air communication, in 21 countries over the past three weeks we see a destabilization of the situation. But the highest incidence rates are registered in the Republic of Turkey, ”added the head of Rospotrebnadzor. According to Oxford University, on April 11, 51,7 thousand cases of coronavirus infection were detected in Turkey, which is exactly four times more than a month ago (there were 11 thousand people on March 12,8). In Russia, according to the operational headquarters, on April 12, 8,32 thousand coronavirus infections were detected, a month ago, an 18% increase - 9,79 thousand.

On the subject: The United States stops issuing visas at its consulates in Russia

On Friday, April 9, President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart discussed the situation with the spread of coronavirus in Turkey by telephone.

“Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about the anti-epidemic measures taken by the Turkish authorities. One of the priorities is to ensure the safety of foreign tourists, the Kremlin said in a statement following this conversation. “It was agreed to maintain the closest contacts between specialized structures, including in order to protect the health of Russian citizens visiting Turkey.”

Tanzania, Turkey and the United Kingdom were the first countries to resume flights from Russia in August 2020 following the interruption of international flights in March.

What will happen to Russian tourists

Organized tourists who are now in Turkey and Tanzania through tour operators will be able to return to Russia as planned, in accordance with the end dates of their tours, the press service of Rostourism said. The same applies to Russians who came to these two countries on their own.

Tourists who decide to return before the end date of the tour will be able to do so in agreement with the tour operator. In some cases, it is possible to change the dates of the return flight to an earlier date, so they are advised to keep in touch with representatives of tour operators, the department noted. Golikova also said that tourists in Turkey and Tanzania are not obliged to return to Russia until April 15. For their export after this date, special flights are provided.

Turkey is the main destination where Russians went on vacation abroad. The flow of Russian tourists is also significant for Turkey: in terms of the number of tourists at Turkish resorts, Russians are ahead of other countries. The record was reached in 2019, when over 7 million Russians visited it. Moreover, from June to September, more than 1 million people went there a month, it follows from the data of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey. In 2020, due to restrictions related to the coronavirus, the flow of tourists from Russia fell by more than three times, to 2,1 million people.

In January-February 2021, the flow of tourists from Russia almost completely recovered to the level of 2019 - 176,4 thousand against 179,4 thousand. According to the analytical service of the Association of Tour Operators, the total number of tourists who booked tours to Turkey with arrivals between from mid-April to the end of May, there were 533 people. More than 200% of them are families with children.

Political context

There are four big topics in political relations between Russia and Turkey recently - the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. On all four, the interests of Russia and Turkey diverge.

During the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in November 2020, Ankara provided full support to Baku, while Russia is bound by allied obligations with Armenia.

On Syria, the countries continue to cooperate to ensure joint patrols in the Idlib zone, but Moscow has repeatedly spoken about Turkey's failure to fulfill its obligations, including in the fight against terrorists in Idlib. Last year, Erdogan criticized Russian policy in Libya, accusing representatives of private military companies of sending there. The Turkish President recalled his position on Crimea, which is different from that of Russia, on Saturday, April 10, when, receiving Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he reaffirmed his non-recognition of the legality of the annexation of the peninsula by Russia.

The tourist flow to Tanzania from Russia is significantly less: this country became a popular tourist destination for Russians only last year. Then Russian tour operators began to offer tourists a vacation in Zanzibar - as an alternative to a beach vacation in the Maldives and in other countries. According to the FSB border service, in October-December 2020, 43,3 thousand Russians visited Tanzania. For comparison: in the same months of 2019, the flow was eight times less: then 5,1 thousand people from Russia visited Tanzania.

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How Russian airlines reacted

A dozen Russian airlines, including the largest, flew to Turkey. The ban on flights to this country came as a surprise to them.

On April 13 and 14 Aeroflot will continue operating flights from Moscow to Istanbul (five flights a day) and Antalya (two flights a day) and back according to the current schedule. Aeroflot will offer its passengers the terms of exchange and return of purchased air tickets to Turkey for dates between April 15 and June 1 without penalties.

The largest private airline in Russia, S7, operates regular flights to Turkey from Moscow (to Antalya and Dalaman) and Novosibirsk (to Antalya) for a total of 34 flights per week. The S7 press service reported that it is suspending flights to this country from April 15, and passengers whose flights from Moscow to Turkish cities are scheduled for April 13 and 14 can also issue a ticket refund without a penalty.

Ural Airlines also has many flights to Turkey, the company's press secretary notes: the carrier operates regular flights to Turkey from Zhukovsky, as well as charter flights in partnership with tour operators TUI and Coral. “Over the past year we have got used to everything, so we can quickly rebuild, we’ll come up with something,” she added.

Azur Air's spring-summer program included flights to Turkey, and the company planned to carry them out. But the carrier has a significant number of flights on other tourist routes (Sochi, Kaliningrad, Cuba, Maldives, Tanzania), said a spokeswoman for Azur Air. Direct flights from Russia to Tanzania were organized by Utair and Nordwind airlines. But, according to the carriers, the tourist season in this country is almost over.

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