MIAMI — The only Russian airline with direct flights to the United States, Aeroflot, has said that getting visas for its crewmembers to enter US territory has gotten extremely difficult.
Either party hasn’t disclosed the reasons for the visa hold-up. However, there have been recent diplomatic tensions between both countries.
Direct flights between Russia and the US may soon be terminated.
Washington has drastically slowed down/reduced the issuance of visas to Russians – including Aeroflot pilots. Moscow says it will reply in kind.
— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) April 19, 2018
“These difficulties are created intentionally,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a press conference at the Kremlin. “The responsibility for them lies entirely with our US colleagues,” he added.
The US expelled several Russian diplomats over a poisoning case in the United Kingdom, following an equal response from Russia by ousting 60 American diplomats from its soil.
Because of the rising tensions, Aeroflot may be facing a drastic reduction in flights between Moscow and the US.
Currently, the airline links Moscow with New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Miami.
“We cannot even rule out now that our countries may be left without flight connection,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“Aeroflot may be forced to stop them, as the crews are facing growing difficulties with getting the American visa (…) The official period of waiting for an interview, which Washington increased to 85 days last August, has been dragged out to 250 days, or eight months recently,” he explained.
However, the Russian carrier admitted that they might have enough crewmembers with active visas, just “enough to keep flying for several months.”
In the meantime, Aeroflot just took delivery of its 40th, American-made Boeing 737-800. The plane (VQ-BHD), will enter commercial operations in the next few days on a leasing agreement.