Russian travelers, airlines not canceling Iran trips, flights

January 10, 2020 - 19:13

TEHRAN – Neither Russian travelers are calling off their Iran trips nor airlines the flights passing through Iranian airspace following a deadly Ukrainian plane crash in Tehran on Wednesday.

Russian airlines are continuing to operate flights to Tehran and fly over Iranian airspace following the crash of a Boeing 737 Ukrainian International Airlines flight that killed 176 passengers and crew, the Moscow Times reported on Thursday.

Russia’s national airline Aeroflot completed a round trip from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport to the Iranian capital just hours after a handful of other international airlines canceled or diverted flights to avoid Iranian airspace.

On January 8, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), advised Russian carriers against flying over Iran and Iraq, as well as over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Moreover, the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism asked travel agencies to inform tourists promptly about changes in the timetable of flights.

Data from FlightRadar 24 shows Aeroflot flight SU512 from Moscow to Tehran departed from Moscow on schedule at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, landed in Tehran early Thursday morning and returned to Moscow as planned.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, however, on Wednesday recommended Russian airlines avoid airspace around the region but fell short of issuing a blanket ban on Russian airlines operating flights in the region, stressing that the ultimate decision overflight routes is taken by individual carriers.

Russian flights to Dubai, which fly for more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) over Iranian airspace, also continued following the crash, which came as Iran launched a dozen missile strikes on U.S. and coalition military bases in Iraq in response to the American assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Aeroflot operated three flights from Moscow to Dubai Wednesday, while the airline’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda also flew to Dubai across Iranian airspace as scheduled. Regional airline S7 operated a regular flight from Russia’s third-largest city Novosibirsk to Dubai, also across Iran, flight data shows.

Flights between Moscow and Dubai Thursday were also continuing to fly across Iranian airspace as normal. Airline representatives told Russian daily Kommersant they had prepared alternative flight plans avoiding Iran which can be implemented if necessary.

U.S. regulators have banned American airlines from flying over Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and other major airlines including Air France, Air Canada, KLM, Lufthansa, and Qantas have confirmed they are avoiding parts of the region.

Government ministers and Russia’s transport and tourism agencies are scheduled to meet Friday, Kommersant reported, to discuss the situation and potentially take further measures regarding the operation of Russian flights around the region.

Iran announced last month that it is considering to allow Russian tourists to visa-free entry into the country to boost tourism after it granted same privilege for some other nationals including Chinese and Omani passport holders.

AFM/MG

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