First int’l flight of this year brings Russians to airport in Milas
MİLAS - Engin Esen
An Azur Air passenger plane from Russia with 212 tourists on board arrived in the Milas-Bodrum Airport in the southwestern province of Muğla on April 11, marking the first direct international flight to the city’s one of the two airports which is close to tourism hotspot Bodrum.
On March 20, more than 150 Russian tourists arrived in Dalaman Airport, Muğla’s southern airport near the resort towns of Fethiye and Marmaris.
İclal Kayaoğlu, general manager of the Milas-Bodrum Airport, said the staff were delighted with the arrival of the first international tourists at the airport as authorities organized a welcome ceremony for the travelers when they landed after a three-and-a-half-hour journey from Vnukovo Airport near Moscow.
A water salute was given to the flight to mark the inaugural journey of the season.
“We’re happy to see Russian tourists here. We hope more Russian tourists come this year. We’re very hopeful about this season” said Kayaoğlu.
Worries over delays
This month, the airport is expected to host 60 international flights, mostly from Russia, Ukraine and Poland, she told Hürriyet Daily News.
However, the probability of cancellations due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions poses a huge risk to the aviation rector.
“Until last week, reservation figures were about the exceed those of 2019,” she said, recalling that the United Kingdom delayed flights to Turkey until June 24.
Some unconfirmed media reports about a possible flight ban in Russia is worrying tourism professionals in Muğla.
The resort town of Bodrum traditionally attracts British, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and German tourists. In 2019, more than 210,000 tourists from the United Kingdom visited Bodrum.
Last year, the number of British tourists arriving in Bodrum decreased to 56,174, while the number of Russian tourists visiting the resort town dropped from 127,085 to 67,203.
Some 16,000 Polish and 8,000 German holidaymakers also arrived in Bodrum in 2020.
Despite the pandemic, 66,637 Ukrainian tourists traveled to Bodrum last year, down slightly from 78,876 in 2019.
The Milas-Bodrum Airport hosted a record number of 2.5 million domestic passengers and 1.9 million international travelers in 2019, Kayaoğlu said.
That figure slumped 67 percent last year due to the pandemic, she added.
“Our target for this year was a recovery of 50 percent compared to last year,” she said.
“We’re expecting around 260,000 tourists this year.”
The airport is planning to host flights from 38 countries in 2020, according to Kayaoğlu’s remarks.
She also said that passengers can go through a COVID-19 diagnostic test at the airport and get the results from a newly built laboratory unit inside the facility in up to 90 minutes.
“We are trying our best to continue serving under these uncertainties,” said Kayaoğlu.