Russia lifted its blanket ban on international flights on Saturday after months-long suspension due to the Covid-19. Travelers can now go to just a few countries, but some reports say all destinations may be reopened soon.

The first regular flight took off from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport at 07:45 am local time on Saturday. The Boeing 777, of Russian flagship air company Aeroflot headed to Turkey – a popular spot among Russian holidaymakers. Two more Aeroflot flights to Istanbul are scheduled for the same day.

Turkey is one of the three countries to which Russia has opened its skies. Starting on August 1, flights were also resumed to and from the United Kingdom and Tanzania (London and Zanzibar respectively). Turkey’s Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman will be added to the list of available destinations on August 10, in addition to Ankara and Istanbul which are already open. 

So far, international flights will be operated only from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don. 

Russian authorities also gave a green light to the restoration of flights to and from Switzerland (Geneva in particular) starting on August 15. The flights will be operated once a week. 

Meanwhile, TASS new agency reported the restrictions on international air travel could be fully lifted as early as on August 11. The proposal to open all destinations was reportedly discussed during a meeting with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, but has not received any official confirmation so far. 

Russia banned flights from abroad at the end of March, excluding those repatriating its own citizens, to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As most regions in the country imposed strict coronavirus-related quarantine measures, domestic air carriers had to significantly cut flights, while some lowcosters had to completely halt operations.

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