George Russell in Hong Kong
Russia will allow the expansion of international flights starting next month, as Vladimir Putin, the country’s president, insisted the pandemic was ‘disappearing’.
Aeroflot plans to resume three weekly connections to Singapore and twice weekly flights to and from Athens from 8 February.
Russia will also resume international flights from eight other cities on the same day.
Airlines are allowed to fly internationally from Astrakhan, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Makhachkala, Mineralnye Vody, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm and Khabarovsk.
The steps come when Putin told a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the coronavirus threat is slowly fading, with the r number at a record low. “The pandemic is gradually diminishing,” he said.
Russians are lining up for vaccinations at the GUM department store in Moscow
The president said the number of cases in Russia is declining, while the number of cures has “been steadily above infection rates lately.”
Since March 2020, when Russia suspended international flights, airlines only fly from airports in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
Airlines have gradually resumed their routes since July 2020. Flights to Finland resumed on Thursday, joining existing routes to and from the UK, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Switzerland, Serbia, Japan, Maldives and Cuba .
Russia’s main airline, Aeroflot Group, carried 30.2 million passengers in 2020, less than half of the 60.7 million flown last year.