MINSK, 17 May (BelTA) - The demand for international transportation, especially in the Russian direction, is now very high, and there is a positive dialogue with foreign counterparts in addressing this issue, Belarus' Transport and Communications Minister Aleksei Avramenko said in an interview to STV channel, BelTA has learned.
Last year, the coronavirus pandemic caused a significant reduction in the number of transport services worldwide, especially international transportation. In fact, all rail transport in Belarus has been brought to a halt and air transport has been reduced to a minimum since April 2020.
According to the minister, a lot has been done to preserve personnel and minimize the negative consequences. “I think we did it. Today we start moving forward,” he said.
The demand for transportation is very high today. “It is especially true about the Russian direction. We understand that today we do not have enough rail and air communication. Therefore, we are constantly in dialogue with colleagues to increase the number of flights, rail service to other cities - Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, etc. The process is quite positive, but at the same time there are new risks associated with the pandemic. We hope that this steady progression will continue and we will enter the summer vacation season with a good charter program to offer a large number of flights,” said Aleksei Avramenko.
Speaking about the Russian direction he mentioned the high-speed train Lastochka, which connects Minsk and Moscow and runs every day. Tickets are sold out quickly. “For the first train, which has 349 seats, the tickets were sold out in just over 3 hours,” the minister said.
Lastochka is a joint project of the Belarusian Railways and Russian Railways. This is a new service at the Belarusian market. It is now possible to get from the center of Minsk to the center of Moscow (or back) in just 6 hours and 50 minutes, with daily trips. The economy class ticket costs Br50. Comparing prices and services, this is a serious competitor to air travel between the two capitals. “We need to restore the volume of traffic that we had. Demand is huge, and this affects the price of the plane ticket,” Aleksei Avramenko said. There was a period when the price of plane and train tickets were almost the same. Now the gap is big just because of the small number of flights available.
Among the prospects for the development of air communication in Belarus Aleksei Avramenko mentioned such important tasks as the development of the national airport and the airline as an international hub and the launch of long-haul flights (primarily to the United States) with foreign partners, and also a project to develop a high-speed connection between the center of Minsk and the national airport.