Russia plans on ending COVID-19 restrictions on flights, both departing and arriving from 52 countries. The decision will come into effect starting 9 April, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin confirmed on Monday.
Mishustin highlighted that “the infection rate is declining, which means it’s time to expand the destinations available to our Russian airlines.”
COVID-19 restrictions for flights to a number of Arab states have been lifted; those include Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Tunisia, according to Russian authorities.
Russia had adopted a series of travel restrictions at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, however, the country has cautiously expanded the list of countries considered safe for travel.
In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU, the United States and Canada have imposed potentially lengthy airspace bans for Russian aircraft. Additionally, the sanctions have also hindered Russian airline access to aircraft parts and maintenance services originating from Europe or the United States.
Due to widespread sanctions, and increasing pressures on the world’s 11th largest aviation market, Moscow has decided to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions in a bid to support its crippling aviation sector.
Egypt was considered one of the most popular destinations for Russian tourists, with a record 3.3 million Russians visiting the Red Sea region in 2014.
In 2018, Russia resumed flights to Cairo after a three-year suspension, due to the crash of a Russian airliner over Sinai in 2015. Russian authorities have also lifted a travel ban for the cities of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh.
Russian Ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko has confirmed that around 700,000 Russian tourists visited Egypt in 2021 alone.