LONDON – Russian flag carrier Aeroflot resumes flights after 2 months of suspension from flying internationally.
On 6th May 2022, the airline re-introduces flights to India and Turkey.
This move comes as a surprise but is somewhat expected. Russia historically enjoys good diplomatic relations between India and Turkey.
India is one of the biggest export markets for Russian Arms, along with Turkey. Turkey is a popular tourist hotspot for many Russian holiday goers.
Aeroflot will operate two flights per week between Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) and Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) utilizing its Airbus A330 aircraft.
The other International flight is to Antalya. The flag carrier will also use the A330 between Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) and Antalya 2 flights per week.
The Russian Embassy in Delhi released a preliminary schedule:
- Moscow (SVO) – Delhi (DEL)
- SU232: Thursday, Sunday
- Departing at 23:25 arriving at 08:20 (+1)
- Delhi (DEL) – Moscow (SVO)
- SU233: Monday, Friday
- Departing at 10:10 arriving at 14:45
The schedule for Antalya is yet to be released.
Why did Aeroflot cancel international flights?
As of March 8th, Aeroflot halted all of its international flights, except Minsk in Belarus, as a consequence of the restrictions imposed by Europe and American nations on Russia, which included restrictions on the use of airspace and economic sanctions.
Importantly, the airline is also avoiding the seizure of its leased aircraft abroad, which plays a huge factor in why the airline halted international operations.
Nevertheless, the airline is gradually resuming flights to ‘friendly countries’. As per the flight tracking website Flightradar 24, Aeroflot group holiday airline Rossiya started flights from Sochi to Istanbul.
Apart from Aeroflot resuming flights to Antalya, the airline is also considering restarting the Istanbul service.
Similarly, Aeroflot also started flying to Colombo from Moscow in April. But it looks like these flights are charter flights.
In addition, flights to former USSR states have begun such as Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. On April 27, the airline resumed flights to Tehran, Iran.
Eagled-eyed aircraft spotters spotted two Aeroflot A350 moving out of storage from Châteauroux-Centre “Marcel Dassault” Airport (CHR). One was sent in early this year, and the other one was sent in March, the height of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Could this be a signal that these two airframes will be used for more international flights?
Where could these ‘new’ destinations be? The best guess is where Russian tourists go for a holiday, such as Bangkok, Phuket, Male, Hanoi, Bali, Seychelles, Dubai, Cairo, and Mauritius.
Not long ago, the Malaysian Ambassador to Moscow Datuk Bala Chandran Tharman told Sputnik that he hopes Aeroflot will reconsider direct flights between St. Petersburg or Moscow and Kuala Lumpur, but nothing has been materialized.
Will other Russian airlines follow suit? Airlines such as S7 and Pobeda could open more routes, especially to ‘friendly’ nations and former USSR states.
The war in Ukraine waged by Russia will only mean longer delays for these carriers to resume normal international operations.