Southwind will focus on flights from Russia to Turkey due to EU bans

Southwind will focus on flights from Russia to Turkey due to EU bans


The EU ban on flights of the Turkish airline Southwind in its airspace will in no way restrain Russian tourist flows, Kommersant’s interlocutors in the industry believe. The prospects for a carrier affiliated with Russian business to return to flights to Germany and Finland, however, are close to zero, they believe: now Southwind will be forced to focus on transportation between the Russian Federation and Turkey. Currently, 12 Russian and five Turkish airlines operate flights between the countries, and during the peak season their number exceeds 1.2 thousand per week.

The EU ban on flights of the Turkish airline Southwind in the union’s airspace will not have an impact on tourist passenger traffic between Russia and Turkey. According to the vice-president of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Dmitry Gorin, today 12 Russian and five Turkish airlines operate flights between the Russian Federation and Turkey, including the largest Aeroflot, S7 and Turkish Airlines. At its peak during the high season, there are about 1.2 thousand flights per week between the countries from 22 Russian cities to five Turkish ones. The existing transport capacity, he said, is sufficient to meet demand. Earlier, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia predicted that in 2024 at least 6.3 million tourists from Russia will visit Turkey. Of this number, up to 3.5 million people will be in Antalya, more than 2 million in Istanbul.

Southwind is a charter carrier established in April 2022, based in Antalya. Flights to the Russian Federation were launched in July 2022. The fleet has 12 aircraft, including long-haul Boeing 777 and Airbus 330. German media noted that the carrier received three aircraft from the Russian charter NordWind that were seized due to sanctions. At the end of March, Southwind was banned from operating flights to Finland, whose authorities came to the conclusion that the majority of ownership and actual control over the airline belonged to Russian business. And on March 28, it became known that EU authorities banned the company from using their airspace.

The only significant consequence of the ban was the cessation of Southwind charter programs from Kaliningrad to Antalya (supposed to start from the end of April) and to Istanbul (start expected from May). The travel company Pegas Touristik, which was involved in the implementation of these tours, offered tourists the choice of a full refund or a flight via Moscow and St. Petersburg. Kommersant’s interlocutors in the tourism market suggest that direct flights between Kaliningrad and Turkey will not resume this season.

Southwind passengers on flights from Moscow to Egypt over the next week will be transported by charter Azur Air, Pegas Touristik reported. It has not yet been decided which airline will be involved in future flights. On March 29, a Russian charter carrier operated a flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to Moscow instead of Air Cairo, which, according to media reports, leased Southwind aircraft. According to Flightradar24, on March 29, tourists were taken from Sharm el-Sheikh to fly over Cyprus through the airspace of Turkey, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

At the end of last year, German media wrote that Southwind is actually controlled by the Russian Pegas Touristik, associated with NordWind and Pegas airlines. The Pegas Touristik company is owned by a Turkish businessman with Russian citizenship, Ramazan Akpinar. Both airlines, according to SPARK, belong to his wife, Karine Boukray. Southwind denied any connection with Russian companies. In addition to Pegas clients, the carrier also operated flights for the Russian tour operator Coral Travel and Anex Tour.

Now, as Kommersant sources in the tourism industry believe, the carrier, which declared intentions to develop an extensive flight program to Finland (Helsinki), Germany (Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart) and Greece (Heraklion), will be forced to abandon these plans. Even if the company decides to prove the absence of ties with Russian-Turkish tour operators, lifting sanctions restrictions will be a protracted process, they believe. According to Kommersant sources, the airline will concentrate its fleet on operating flights between Russia and Turkey over EU airspace, as Russian carriers have been doing since 2022.

Aigul Abdullina


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