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Coronavirus: Russian flights rescheduled, not cancelled, Perdios says

Cyprus Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios Is Seen During An Interview With Reuters In His Office In Nicosia
Savvas Perdios

A total of 20 flights from Russia that were due to land in Cyprus throughout last week have not been able to depart due to the fact that the Russian government has not yet clarified the rules on charter flights.

According to a source working in the aviation industry, over 90 flights per week from Russia are expected to land in the island this month, based on the airlines’ schedules,.

The issue of the 20 charter flights that did not depart from Russia last week, therefore, has nothing to do with Cyprus. Effectively, they were not cancelled, they were simply not cleared to operate yet by the Russian government.

The Russian government is currently attempting to set up a roadmap for charter flights taking tourists abroad, not just for Cyprus but for other European destinations as well.

Cyprus saw the return of Russian tourists in the island on April 1 after the island said it would accept Sputnik V as a vaccination and that vaccinated Russian tourists would not be required to undergo a PCR test to travel to Cyprus and will also be able to avoid quarantine on the island.

Russia currently represents the second biggest market for the tourism industry in Cyprus after the UK. With the British government still tethering on foreign travel, Russian tourists are now even more vital for the industry.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios also confirmed that the 20 flights destined for Cyprus were not effectively cancelled, but simply not allowed to depart, adding that they might be postponed to July when the situation regarding charter travel will be clarified by the Russian government.

“Mentioning cancellations is unfair,” Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency on Wednesday. “It’s not like we were expecting those flights, since we know that Russia has not yet given the green light to charter flights.”

Perdios, however, said he expects Russia to allow charter flights to four of five countries, including Cyprus, in the next few weeks, after allowing their vaccination programme to extend its coverage to citizens.

He also added that Russian tour operators are currently considering scheduling around 500 flights per month to Cyprus from July onwards.

The deputy minister travelled to Moscow on June 5, where he briefed the Russian government on the island’s improved Covid-19 data and initiated talks on the restart of chartered flights to Cyprus.

“Because of the unpredictability of the situation, marred by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it will be difficult to see a sensible growth in the number of foreign tourists arriving in Cyprus before July,” Perdios said.

He assured that discussions with Russian authorities are still taking place on a daily basis and vowed to return to Moscow to re-assess the situation before the end of June.

As far as Britons travelling to Cyprus are concerned, Perdios said that the UK’s main concern is not specifically Cyprus, but the spread of the Indian variant around the world, which required additional caution on the reopening of international flights for tourists.

“What this means for Cyprus, which is in a very good epidemiological situation, is that we need to have a little more patience and wait until the UK analyses the data about the spread of the variant in the island that we provided,” Perdios said.

“I believe that, if our epidemiological situation continues to improve like it is, chances are that in a few weeks from today we will be in the green category,” he concluded.

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