Why Russia has stopped flights with Turkey
Russia suspended flights with Turkey from April 15 to June 1.
The official reason is the difficult epidemiological situation in both countries. However, there is little doubt that the real reason is political.
More than half a million Russian citizens have already booked trips to Turkey.
“If we talk about the countries with which we have open air communication, the highest incidence rates were registered in the Republic of Turkey. Let me remind you that if in the Russian Federation there are 45 cases per 100,000 of the population, then in the Republic of Turkey this figure is 455 per 100,000 of the population,” the Russian Novaya Gazeta quoted the head of Rospotrebnadzor (the department responsible for consumer protection) Anna Popova as saying.
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Why was the road to Turkey ‘closed?’
Popova also added that since the opening of air traffic, out of three million Russian citizens who arrived from abroad, 25,000 people were infected, 80 percent of them flew from Turkey.
Popova also said that in 2020 and 2021, 12 cases of malaria were imported from this country, but why the flight was suspended right now, Popova did not explain.
At the end of March, the Turkish Ministry of Culture announced that since the beginning of the year they have received more than a million tourists, with Russia taking the first place in terms of tourist flow – 176 thousand people.
According to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, the total number of tourists who booked tours to Turkey for the period from April 15 to May 31, amounted to 533,200 tourists. More than 40 percent of them are families with children. The total cost of the booked tours was about 32 billion rubles [about 420 million].
Two days before the announcement of the suspension of flights with Turkey, President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Erdogan told reporters that during negotiations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul, he confirmed Ankara’s decision not to recognize Crimea as Russian: “We stand for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. We have confirmed our decision in principle not to recognize the annexation of Crimea. “
There is no political motive in the decision to reduce regular and charter flights to Turkey, the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov assured journalists: “The situation is exclusively epidemiological in nature, it is associated with a rather sharp outbreak in Turkey.”
However, the vice-speaker of the Federation Council, Konstantin Kosachev, wrote a post on his Facebook account in which he called the cancellation of vacations in Turkey “a test of patriotism for Russians.” According to Kosachev, “after President Erdogan’s statements on Crimea, vacation in this country should become morally unacceptable for Russian citizens.”
Is it all about the Crimea?
Everything related to the coronavirus is always unexpected. And it was difficult to foresee just such a decision, of course, says Vladimir Kontarovich, First Vice President of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia:
“The number of people who have been banned from flights is almost half a million. The money they have invested is very difficult to return, they do not lie in a pile in the safe, most of this money has already been paid to airlines and hotels. In order for the tour operator to be able to return this money to tourists, it is necessary that airlines and hotels return it to the tour operators. And whether this will happen and, if it happens, how quickly, we do not understand at all. But I am sure that airlines and hotels will agree to postpone tours until the air service is opened. “
“Novaya Gazeta” cites comments from tourists who were spoiled by the decision of the Russian authorities to have a holiday.
“In general, this is already causing some kind of hysterical laughter. I saved up for a very long time for this trip, put off from the meager salary of a school teacher, so that they would tell me now: “Sorry, Erdogan did not recognize Crimea as Russian, so Turkey is closed for you.” I have not yet been told what they will do with my tickets, whether they will return my money or exchange it for something. I will definitely not follow the lead of our government and bring money to Russian resorts, ”says Alina, a Russian language teacher.