Starting from Wednesday, Russia resumes regular air service with Vietnam, India, Finland and Qatar, suspended last year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was made in mid-January by the novel coronavirus crisis center.The center authorized flights to Vietnam (Moscow-Hanoi, twice a week), India (Moscow-New Delhi, twice a week), Finland (Moscow-Helsinki, twice a week, as well as St. Petersburg-Helsinki, twice a week) and Qatar (Moscow-Doha, thrice a week).
Moreover, the number of regular flights to Egypt’s capital Cairo was increased to three flights a week. Besides, the Russian government lifted entry restrictions for citizens of those countries.
The Russian anti-coronavirus crisis center makes the decision to resume air service with a foreign country based on certain criteria. The country should report 40 or less new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 of the population within 14 days, not more than 1% of a single-day rise of new cases within 14 days and the R number of coronavirus at below 1 within seven days, and on the basis of reciprocity.
However, the resumption of air service with the four countries has been mostly a declarative move. So far, only one Russian air carrier, Aeroflot, declared its readiness to resume flights to one of those destinations: the company plans to launch flights to Helsinki on January 28. Finnish airline Finnair also plans to resume air service with St. Petersburg. However, Finland is set to keep its borders closed for foreign tourists until February 25 at earliest.
No Russian or foreign air carrier declared intention to resume flights to other destinations.
In March 2020, Russia suspended all commercial passenger flights abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic. Carriers continued to operate only repatriation flights, aimed at helping Russians return from abroad and at sending foreigners to their home countries. Russia canceled repatriation flights in September, now air carriers can carry out cargo and passenger transportation abroad – for passengers of these flights there are restrictions depending on the country of arrival.Since last summer, Russia has partially resumed flights to a number of countries: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Tanzania, Serbia, Japan, the Maldives, and Cuba. Also, flights with Ethiopia and the Seychelles were formally resumed, but so far none of the Russian airlines has announced the start of flights. In addition, Russia has recently temporarily suspended air service with the UK due to a new strain of coronavirus detected in the country.