Russia restores regular flights to Cuba after being barred from Western airspace following the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict
Russia resumed regular flights to Cuba following a more than a year-long suspension, Russia’s Aeroflot group announced on Saturday. They will be operated by Aeroflot’s subsidiary, Rossiya Airlines.
The first scheduled plane bound for the Cuban resort of Varadero departed from Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow early on Saturday.
According to Sergey Starikov, official representative of Rossiya Airlines, “the demand for tickets is enormous,” with each flight nearly 100% booked.
The flights are scheduled to take off twice a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays, with one more to be added by September.
Charter flights to Cuba are currently operated by Russian low-coster Nordwind, which flies to Varadero and the island of Cayo Coco.
Russian airlines suspended their regular routes to Cuba in February last year, due to the restrictions imposed by several EU states on the use of their airspace shortly after the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
In May this year, Russia’s deputy prime minister for tourism, Dmitry Chernyshenko, announced that regular flights to Cuba skirting the airspace of “unfriendly” countries would resume by July. He added that the number of direct charter flights to the country would also be raised so “citizens can have a year-round opportunity for a beach holiday in a friendly country.”
As a sanctioned country itself, Cuba has not supported Ukraine-related Western sanctions against Russia. Moreover, in early spring, Cuban banks started accepting MIR cards, Russia’s alternative to Visa and Mastercard when they stopped servicing Russian clients. Currently, Havana is also finalising the steps needed to switch trade settlements with Moscow to Russian rubles.
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