Russia Looks To Reopen Travel With Four Countries

Russian authorities announced on Saturday the resumption of flights between Moscow and the capitals of Finland, India, Qatar, and Vietnam. Flights from the Russian capital to the aforementioned nations were suspended during the early weeks of the pandemic in spring.  The Russian government’s COVID-19 advisors said the four countries had now seen a drop in infection rates, with only 40 new cases a week per 100,000 people.

Aeroflot Aircraft A350 getty
Flights could resume before the end of the month Photo: Getty Images

If the infection rates continue to drop and certain other epidemiological criteria were met, flights could restart as early as January 27. The other criteria for the resumption of flights are believed to be not more than one percent of a single-day rise in new cases for 14 days and that reproduction numbers of coronavirus remain at below one for seven days.

Flights could resume by January 27

According to the Vietnamese newspaper VN Express citing Russian state news outlet TASS, the Russian anti-coronavirus crisis center announced on Saturday that it would resume certain flights after looking at the virus situation. If the rate of infections remains the same, reciprocal flights between Moscow and Doha, Hanoi, Helsinki, and New Delhi could resume before the end of the month.

TASS quotes the Russian anti-coronavirus crisis center as saying:

“After discussing and taking into consideration the epidemiological situation in certain countries, the crisis center took a decision to resume reciprocal international air communication starting on January 27, 2021, with the following states, namely 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, twice a week.).” 

Aeroflot A350 getty
Russia to increase flights from Moscow to Cairo. Getty Images

As well as the above schedule, the anti-coronavirus crisis center also decided to increase the number of Moscow-Cairo flights to five per week, saying:

“It was decided to increase the number of regular flights to Egypt on the Moscow-Cairo route to five a week.” 

Vietnam wants to wait

Regarding flights to Vietnam, the Russian’s move comes despite the Vietnamese government wanting to limit the number of flights arriving in the country ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February. Vietnam is worried about stopping a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus from entering the country. On January 5, Hanoi stopped flights from the United Kingdom and South Africa, two countries dealing with new variants.

Aeroflot's Airbus À350-900 at St Petersburg Airport
Russia still has a high rate of COVID-19 cases. Photo: Getty Images

According to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the only international flights currently allowed into the country must be approved by the ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Public Security, and Transport. All inbound international flights were suspended in March, with only repatriation flights for Vietnamese citizens allowed to land.

Russia is a COVID-19 hotspot

Right now, Russia has the fourth-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with 3.54 million infections that have been attributed to 65,566 deaths. Russia plans to increase the number of Sputnik V vaccines available to the public starting from tomorrow.

Given the rate of Russian cases, would it make sense for countries with low infection rates to allow Moscow flights? What do you think? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.