The headquarters of the government finally allowed Russian airlines to fully resume flights to Turkey from 22 June. While the airlines are waiting for permission from the Federal Air Transport Agency to open flights and believe that it may take a week to agree on new flights. At the same time, flights to Bodrum, Antalya and Izmir have already appeared in the online schedules of several airports. Tour operators assume that starting on Monday, amid the excitement, prices for tickets to Turkey will start to rise sharply, but the flow of tourists inside Russia is likely to decrease not because of this, but because of the anti-pandemic restrictions of the Russian authorities.
On the evening of June 18, the operational headquarters for the fight against coronavirus announced the resumption of flights to Turkish resorts from June 22. According to the government, the decision on the advisability of restoring regular and charter flights with Turkey was made following the visit of a Russian delegation to the country. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova did not give a specific list of destinations at the briefing. Air traffic will resume “at the frequency agreed upon prior to its suspension,” the statement said. All airlines that had permits to fly to Turkey before closing on April 15 retain this right, the Federal Air Transport Agency told Kommersant. According to Kommersant’s sources in the aviation industry, decisions on the allocation of frequencies will be made no earlier than on Monday after a meeting in the Federal Air Transport Agency.
So, the schedule on the Vnukovo website includes Azur Air flights to Bodrum from June 27 and to Antalya from July 7. The carrier’s press service told Kommersant that while this is “an optimistic version, a planned program,” tickets for these flights cannot be bought. “The airline is ready to operate flights to resort destinations in Turkey, as soon as the official information with the conditions of flights appears,” the company said in a statement.
Flights to Bodrum and Izmir from June 22 and 23, respectively, judging by the Domodedovo website, Royal Flight is also ready to resume. The carrier’s call center said that tickets could go on sale no earlier than June 22. Utair is awaiting clarifications from the Federal Air Transport Agency to start flights to resorts from regional airports. “We will resume flights from Grozny and Makhachkala to Istanbul as soon as we get permission from the air regulator,” the company told Kommersant. “We are also planning Antalya from Tyumen, Grozny and Makhachkala.” At S7 Airlines, they told Kommersant, they are also awaiting the publication of official documents from the Russian authorities with details on the resumption of flights and are ready to promptly launch flights to Turkey.
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Representatives of the Aeroflot group, RedWings, Ural Airlines and other airlines operating flights to Turkey refrained from commenting. The adjustment of the schedule, the reallocation of aircraft and the preparation of airports will take about a week, believes Roman Gusarov, editor-in-chief of the Avia.ru portal. “It is clear that the carriers are in some confusion, because it is obvious that they will not wait for official orders at the weekend and no one will have time to sell tickets by the opening date,” he says.
Turkey is one of the most popular destinations for organized outbound tourism, where, according to estimates by the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), up to 1 million tourists can go. At the same time, according to the organization’s estimates, the Russian tourist business already has tour obligations to 1 million Russians. These include reservations for July and August and tours that were canceled due to flight restrictions last spring and a year earlier, most of which were postponed to fall. Tour operators began to form tours to Turkey immediately after the news about the decision of the headquarters, business did not need additional time due to the large volume of unloaded aircraft and the availability of prepayments in hotels.
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Representative of the National Network of Travel Agencies Igor Blinov notes that while a week for two at the beginning of July in a Turkish hotel with good reviews on the all-inclusive system costs from 75 thousand rubles. But the expert fears that on Monday, along with the wave of rush demand, the cost of recreation will start to grow, and “it is difficult to predict the dynamics.”
When entering Turkey, you will have to present a certificate of a negative PCR test result or a certificate of vaccination.
The expert notes that the flow of tourists through them will depend on the number of available slots, but in total, over the summer, 1.5 million organized Russian tourists can rest in open countries. Tours to many of these countries, such as Cyprus, were previously organized on cargo and passenger flights this year.
The general director of the Dolphin tour operator, Sergei Romashkin, doubts that the opening of Turkey and other outbound destinations will lead to the abandonment of the planned vacation at Russian resorts, but the activity of new bookings, he said, will decrease. “We have seen this effect over the past few days, the number of applications fell by 25%: people, on the one hand, were waiting for the opening of Turkey, and on the other, they were afraid of new restrictions in Russia,” he says. The expert is sure that new measures by the authorities to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 are now posing more risks for domestic tourism: for example, in Sevastopol, the introduction of the mandatory presentation of a certificate of vaccination or the presence of antibodies for settlement is being discussed. “If such a decision is made, the city is unlikely to receive more than 5% of the planned tourist flow,” notes Mr. Romashkin.