Aviation

Ukraine and Russia ground direct flights

Oleksandr Savochenko - AFP

Direct flights between Ukraine and Russia have stopped as mistrust between the uneasy ex-Soviet neighbours boils over into a new trade war that affects tens of thousands of families.

“I never thought it would come to this,” said 30-year-old Muscovite Alexander Mikhaylin after walking off the very last Russian flight into Kiev’s sprawling Boryspil airport late on Saturday night.

Russia and Ukraine share both a long history and a fierce animosity sparked by months of winter 2013-2014 protests that ousted Kremlin-president Viktor Poroshenko and brought a strongly pro-Western leadership to power.

Ukraine’s decision to escape Moscow’s orbit set off a bloody chain of events that included Russia’s March 2014 seizure of Crimea and the 18-month eastern separatist conflict that has killed at least 8,000 people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies choreographing the eastern revolt in reprisal for the change of heart in Ukraine – which Moscow saw as part of a new geopolitical bloc to rival the European Union and eventually NATO.

But Kiev and its Western allies refuse to believe him because Putin had also at first rejected suggestions that Russian forces had been dispatched to take over Crimea.

The flight spat started with Poroshenko’s September 16 announcement that Russian airlines would soon be barred from landing – but not flying over – Ukraine because of Moscow’s refusal to hand back Crimea.

Russia denounced the decision as “madness” before taking similar measures this month.

A desperate round of negotiations between the two sides in Brussels on Friday ended without any immediate solution in sight.

Russian authorities estimate some 800,000 people flew between the two countries in the first eight months of the year.

They also say that at least 70 per cent are Ukrainians trying to visit Russian relatives and that it was Kiev’s main airline that was likely to be financially hurt the most by the air blockade.

Travellers must now look into other less convenient, more expensive options including slow overnight train rides and flights via other countries on relatively good terms with both sides.

Ukrainians could for instance first travel west to Moldova before making the longer flight back across their own country to Russia.

Other options include Belarus – its main airport in Minsk now standing largely empty because of the country’s poor relations with the West – as well as ex-Soviet Georgia.

Travellers could also potentially use the three Baltic countries and their sleek new airports.

But the tiny ex-Soviet nations are proud members of European Union’s Schengen free travel zone.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Destinations

Russia approves controversial COVID-19 vaccine

by Christian Fleetwood

It’s a monumental achievement – one that could mean international travel is closer than ever before, right? Well, we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Royal Caribbean posts $2.3 billion quarterly loss, but 2021 bookings “trending well”

by Huntley Mitchell

With its global cruise operations having been suspended since March, Royal Caribbean’s quarterly results come as no surprise.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

“I Blame”, “Coal Village” and “Jumpsuit”: Visit Mexico site accidentally gives literal translations for destinations

Have you done something embarrassing at work recently? Take comfort in knowing it almost definitely wasn’t as bad as this gaffe by whoever is in charge of translating Visit Mexico’s webpage.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Private charter airline offers flights to Antarctica on board Qantas Dreamliner

by Christian Fleetwood

The first couple of flights to the frozen continent are set for a November take-off, with travel agents encouraged to get selling.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Marriott’s RevPAR falls more than 80pc in Q2, but CEO notes “steady signs” of demand returning

by Huntley Mitchell

Here’s yet another serving of dour financial results from a hotel giant, this time with a dash of optimism.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Cruise Wrap: MSC’s Mediterranean return, Silverseas’ new expeditions + MORE

This week’s Cruise Wrap is one of our longest yet, with enough information to fill the Pacific Ocean. Or maybe just the Tasman Sea. It will fill your kitchen sink, at least.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Get your skills verified with AFTA’s new Micro Credentials Program

Fancy adding some shiny new credentials, or verifying your existing skills? Here’s a quick and easy way to get there.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

CATO granted access to utilise ‘Safe Travels’ protocols

Unsure what this good news means for you as a CATO member? All is explained here for you, thanks to Travel Weekly’s copying and pasting of a press release.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

“Very difficult” second quarter sees Amadeus limp to $324m half-yearly loss

by Huntley Mitchell

Amadeus boss Luis Maroto has been forced to pause the order of a new leather chair and credenza for his office after announcing the company’s half-yearly financials.

Share

CommentComments

Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Bench Africa’s Bonnie-Sue O’Garey

This week, we went on a virtual safari with Bench Africa’s state manager for NSW and the ACT. And by that, we mean we looked at YouTube videos of elephants while we interviewed her.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Northern Territory’s border measures to remain for “at least” 18 months, says Chief Minister

Were you lining up a Christmas jaunt to the Top End for your clients in the hope that the NT’s border restrictions will be relaxed by then? Well, beware of this deflating news.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Two key players shielded from Ruby Princess inquiry

The special inquiry into Ruby Princess will have to report without being able to question two key federal officers who helped clear the cruise ship.

Share

CommentComments