Turkish Airlines to extend destinations next month
Turkey’s flag carrier will restart flying to Russia, Kuwait, India and South Africa in August, according to Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu.
Destinations in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Kenya and Uzbekistan will be added to the table later, depending on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in those countries, he said in a statement on July 27.
Both Turkey and Russia last week announced that reciprocal flights would resume on Aug. 1 after a four-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Initially, flights will restart between three Russian airports and Turkish airports in Istanbul and Ankara, said Karaismailoğlu.
“Scheduled and charter flights from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don in Russia to Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman in Turkey will also restart on Aug. 10,” he added.
Turkish Airlines is in talks with Russian authorities to fly from Kazan and Sochi as well, according to sources.
Tour operators, including Anex Tour, Odeon Tours, Coral Travel and Pegas Touristik, are planning to organize charter flights from Russia to Turkey.
Some tour operators have also applied to the flag carriers of the two countries, Turkish Airlines and Aeroflot, to reserve seats.
The Russian market is the top tourist source for Turkey. Last year, 7 million Russian tourists visited Turkey and 6 million of them arrived in the Mediterranean province of Antalya.
This year, over 21,000 foreign tourists visited Antalya in June, down from 2.2 million in the same month of last year. The province welcomed more than 27,000 foreigners just in the first week of July, while Ukrainians made the bulk of the figure with 10,498 trippers.
After attracting a record number of visitors with 51.9 million people in 2019, Turkey was targeting a total of 60 million tourists in 2020 before the coronavirus crisis. The country’s tourism revenues hit $34.5 billion in 2019, a new record high.
However, Turkey welcomed 4.5 million foreign visitors in the first half of 2020, down 75 percent year-on-year, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry data on July 24.
Currently, more than140 planes are landing at Antalya Airport daily. Russian flag carrier Aeroloft will join European airlines flying to the resort city, including Turkish budget airline Pegasus, Sunexpress, a joint venture of Turkish Airlines and Germany’s Lufthansa, Azur Air Ukraine and Norwegian Air.
[HH] Mandatory tests
Karaismailoğlu also said that passengers will need to document their health situation on return to Russia.
“Passengers and crew members flying to Russia need to have had a PCR test for COVID-19 at most three days prior to the travel day,” he said. Those without a negative coronavirus test result will be obliged to take a test witin three days after arrival, while airlines will have the right to reject passengers without a negative test result, he added.
Tourists visiting Turkey can also opt to have a fast-track coronavirus test at an airport on the way back home for 15 euros as part of the Safe Tourism Certification Program.
The Turkish government also introduced a health insurance system for foreign travelers and its citizens residing abroad with a limit between 2,000 and 7,000 euros and a cost between 13 and 33 euros. For a one-week stay, the limit of 7,000 euros can be purchased for 23 euros, and the insurance covers health expenses including a coronavirus treatment.
Meanwhile, Germany has announced plans for free and mandatory coronavirus tests for holidaymakers returning from high-risk countries in order to slow the spread of infections as the holiday season kicks into high gear.
Germany has designated 130 countries as high-risk, including Turkey, Egypt and the United States, but some European countries, Spain coming first, can be added to the list, according to local media.