Rosaviatsia and Rosturizm are trying to close the loophole for tour operators who send clients on cargo-passenger flights to countries with which regular air traffic has not yet been resumed. The authorities have warned of the possible cancellation of such flights. The hardest hit will be the companies that have already sold tours to Cyprus. It is not yet possible to go there by regular flights, although the country accepts Russians. The actions of the regulators have already led to a reduction in flights and an increase in the price of tour packages.
Rostourism has notified tour operators about the possible cancellation of airlines’ permits for carrying out passenger-and-freight flights carrying organized tourists to countries with which flights have not been officially resumed. In this case, the department warns, operators are liable to customers for improper service delivery.
The letter followed a similar telegram from the Federal Air Transport Agency to the airlines, its text published on June 5 on the Tourdom portal. The document explains that the issuance of tickets for tourists for passenger-and-freight flights abroad “is only possible if there is a decision of the headquarters (to combat coronavirus in the Russian Federation .— “B”) and the permission of the aviation authorities of foreign states. ” Rosaviatsia and Rosturizm did not provide comments.
Now, according to the decision of the headquarters, 43 countries are available for Russians, including Croatia, Morocco, Greece, Egypt (Cairo), where travelers fly on cargo-passenger and regular flights. The high price remains the limiting factor due to the low frequency, says the source of Kommersant on the travel market. According to him, on the cargo-passenger flights, organized tour groups now mainly fly to Cyprus and Tunisia, which are not on the list of the headquarters.
Tours to Cyprus began to be actively sold in April. According to a Kommersant source, 1-3 thousand Russians flew there a day: “Taking into account the average booking depth of two weeks, 14-42 thousand tourists can now be in Cyprus, the same number of tours were sold with departures for the coming days”. Tours to Tunisia were purchased in insignificant volume. The removal of organized tourists from these countries by passenger-and-freight flights will take place in a planned manner until June 19, says the source of Kommersant.
According to him, on Saturday and Sunday, airline admissions for some flights to Cyprus have already been canceled. This is confirmed by messages on social networks. “We had a flight to Cyprus from Biblio Globus on Tuesday, the tour cost 145 thousand rubles, the next flight is possible on Wednesday, but already for 230 thousand rubles,” writes Instagram user ksu_jigaleva. In case of refusal, the operator promises to return the money within 60 days. Biblio Globus did not provide comments.
The reason for the decision of the Federal Air Transport Agency was the numerous claims of tour operators, who complained that only “competitors with administrative resources” can carry on cargo-passenger flights, one of Kommersant’s sources believes.
However, the decision of the officials did not improve the situation. A strange situation has developed on the market: tickets for passenger-and-freight flights are sold freely, tourists can buy them, but tour operators cannot now, emphasizes the representative of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Irina Tyurina. Many agents initially did not recommend booking flights to Cyprus due to high risks and prices, which reached 400 thousand rubles. for four people for ten days in a four-star hotel, says Igor Blinov, a representative of the National Network of Travel Agencies.
However, the editor-in-chief of Avia.ru Roman Gusarov doubts that the warning of the Federal Air Transport Agency will entail really serious consequences: “The regulator did not prescribe specific measures or sanctions that threaten carriers for actually carrying out tourist charters under the guise of passenger-and-freight flights.” Airlines, the expert believes, will most likely continue to carry tourists. “Perhaps now air carriers will increase the volume of cargo in order to disguise the full occupancy of the cabin by passengers,” adds Mr. Gusarov.
Igor Blinov notes that the situation is complicated by the obligations that have not been implemented since 2020 to tourists, whose funds were deposited by tour operators. According to Kommersant’s sources, most of the travelers who planned to go to Cyprus this summer are just such clients. They are not ready to spend their summer vacations in Russian resorts or pay for expensive vacations in the Middle East and Maldives.