Russia said to withdraw threat of new restrictions on charter flights to Turkey

Russia said to withdraw threat of new restrictions on charter flights to Turkey
Fears of a fresh Russian ban on tourist charter flights to Turkey's Antalya Airport have receded.
By bne IntelliNews May 31, 2017

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) has informed Russian airlines that its warning that new restrictions could be applied to charter flights between Moscow and Turkey’s Antalya has been withdrawn, a charter airline source told TASS on May 30.

Moscow banned charter flights to Turkey after one of its fighter jets was downed by the Turkish air force near the Syrian border in late 2015. The move, dropped after the Turkish and Russian governments began a rapprochement, hit Turkey’s tourism industry hard.

Last month, Russia’s state-controlled TASS reported that Russian airlines had received a telegram from Rosaviatsia about a possible renewed suspension of charter flights to Turkey. The warning of the potential ban came at a time when the rift between Ankara and Moscow over Syria was seen as deepening again following the April chemical attack allegedly carried out by the Russian-backed Damascus regime on a rebel-controlled town.

Turkey experienced a general and dramatic decline in tourist arrivals during 2016 as anxieties spread over waves of terrorism and the effects of the Russian charter flights ban hit home. The International Monetary Fund estimated that the substantial reduction in arrivals took a percentage point off GDP growth in the year.

In January-April, a total of 5.87mn foreign tourists visited Turkey, a 0.96% increase on a year ago that was driven by the April growth of 18% y/y. The April figure marked the first annual monthly growth in foreign arrivals since July 2014.

Across the first four months of this year, 319,904 Russian tourists arrived in Turkey, up 229% compared with the same period of 2016.

Turkey and Russia are also at odds over Ankara’s restrictions on deliveries of Russian grain and Moscow’s ban on Turkish tomatoes.

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