DALLAS – ForwardKeys statistics show Russian outbound tourism has declined as a result of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.
Already severely hampered by pandemic travel restrictions, February 2022 outbound international plane tickets from Russia were 42% of pre-pandemic levels in the week preceding the start of the war but decreased to 19% in the week after the invasion.
Since then, flight bookings have plummeted even further, hovering around 15%, according to ForwardKeys data.
Alterative Destinations amid Sanctions
Because of war-related civil aviation sanctions, Russians are unable to book flights to many of their favorite Western destinations; instead, they are booking excursions to the Middle East and Asia.
An assessment of flight bookings made between February 24, when the invasion began, and April 27, when the most recent data is available, reveals that the top five destinations for travel between May and August, in order of resilience, are Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and the UAE.
Bookings to Sri Lanka are currently 85% higher than pre-pandemic levels, whereas bookings to the Maldives are 1% lower, Kyrgyzstan is 11% lower, Turkey is 36% lower, and the UAE is 49% lower.
Aeroflot Resumes Operations
Due to the sanctions, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot (SU) chose to cease most international flights, with the exception of a few routes, on March 8. The airline will now restart planned flights from Moscow to Istanbul and Antalya in southern Turkey on Saturday, May 7, 2022.
The airline will initially conduct two daily reciprocal flights to Istanbul Airport (IST) and one to Antalya Airport (AYT). The number of flights to Istanbul and the Mediterranean province will soon be increased to three, according to the company.
The carrier further stated that the scheduled flights to Istanbul and Antalya will depart from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) and will be flown by an Airbus A330 wide-body passenger aircraft.
Russia is among the top tourist markets for Turkey’s tourism industry.
Ukraine Invasion’s Toll on Russian Aviation
The Helsinki Times has published a succinct summary of changes to flight schedules, following Russian hostilities in Ukraine:
- 24th Feb: Air space in southern Russia was closed and SU was banned from flying to the UK
- 25th Feb: Russia banned British airlines from its airspace
- 27th Feb: The EU closed its airspace to Russian planes
- 1st Mar: The US banned Russian flights from entering its airspace
- 5th Mar: Russian airlines (SU, Ural Airlines, Azur Air and Nordwind Airlines, and others) suspended international flights
- 25th Mar: Rosaviatsiya, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, extended a ban on flight operations at 11 airports in southern and central parts of Russia
- 25th Mar: Vietnam Airlines suspended regular flights to Russia
- 14th Apr: AirBaltic stopped flights to Russia – but will return to Ukraine ASAP
- 22nd Apr: EgyptAir resumed daily direct flights between Cairo and Moscow
Featured image: Aeroflot is Russia’s major carrier. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways