Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviation has warned the country’s airlines of a possible ban on charter flights to Turkey, citing a “complicated political situation.” The agency warned it may again halt charter flights to Turkey, as tensions between the two countries intensified over events in Syria.
Charter flights between Russia and Turkey were restored in August of 2016 after a cessation of flights in the wake of Russia-Turkey tensions following Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border in 2015. The number of Russian visitors to Turkey fell to 866,000 in 2016, from 3.65 million a year earlier and 4.5 million in 2014, causing a near disastrous downward spiral for the country’s tourism sector. Irina Tyurina, a spokeswoman for the Russian Tourist Industry Union told Bloomberg on Monday, “If it happens, the consequences will be worse than in 2015.”
Turkey and Russia are at odds over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as the ever complicated political situation within Turkey. The Turks welcoming the U.S. missile strike on Syria last week by the Trump administration has rekindled animosities too. Prior to last year, Russia was second only to Germany in the numbers of travelers visiting Turkey.
According to the head of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) Maya Lomidze, the restrictions are not yet in place but may be linked to the Turkish constitutional referendum on April 16. Moscow-Ankara relations began to improve after President Erdogan apologized for the jet incident, but new developments spell a more unstable situation than before according to news.