Serbia emerges as Russia aviation gateway

With many airline routes out of Russia closed in the response to the invasion of Ukraine, a number of secondary countries have effectively become gateways for passengers.

Serbia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have all seen traffic increase as they remain some of the few options open to travellers looking to get in or out of the country.

Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights with ForwardKeys, said: “With many routes to and from Russia effectively closed, owing to the imposition of sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine, we are seeing air travel via Serbia, Turkey and the UAE surge by over 200 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

“Looking at tickets issued between February 28th (when sanctions were put in place) and March 8th (the latest available data), the top hubs for people travelling from Russia to Europe were via Turkey, Serbia and UAE.”

Ponti added that the top destination countries in Europe for transfers via Turkey were Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain and Greece.

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Via Serbia, travellers were headed to Montenegro, Cyprus, France, Switzerland and Italy.

Finally, those stopping off in the UAE were on route to Cyprus, Germany, the UK, Italy and France.

Turkey and the UAE also are currently serving as hubs to connect Russia with the USA and some Asian destinations, the analysis suggested.

Ponti continued: “Looking at scheduled flight capacity prior to the imposition of sanctions (during the week of February 21st) compared to the latest available data (during the week of March 7th), there has been a 50 per cent increase from Russia to Serbia a 12 per cent increase to Turkey and a five per cent increase to the UAE.”

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