PETROZAVODSK, 29 July (BelTA) – Karelian authorities are interested in air communication between Karelia and Belarus, Head of the Republic of Karelia Artur Parfenchikov said as he met with State Secretary of the Belarus-Russia Union State Grigory Rapota on 29 July, BelTA has learned.
Artur Parfenchikov noted that Karelia and Belarus maintain close economic and humanitarian contacts; Belarusians are the third biggest ethnic group in this Russian region. “We believe that such flights will be in demand. There are quite many people here who want to spend time in Belarus, in particular in summer. Residents of Belarus will also get an opportunity to visit Karelia that boasts a great number of unique tourist attractions,” he said.
Artur Parfenchikov noted that the idea to arrange direct flights was put forward back in December 2018 at his meeting with Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Over this time, a new passenger terminal was commissioned in Petrozavodsk and a runway was renovated; thus, the local airport meets all international standards now.
The Belavia airline had already considered the possibility of launching a flight Minsk-Saint Petersburg-Petrozavodsk, said Dmitry Rodionov, deputy prime minister for economy of the Karelian government, who was present at the meeting. However, under Russian laws, foreign airlines are not allowed to carry out cabotage transport services in Russia. In this regard, Karelia asked the state secretary of the Union State to help solve the issue.
Grigory Rapota proposed to raise this topic at the next joint meeting of the transport ministries of Belarus and Russia. In his opinion, the idea of organizing air service between Belarus and Karelia is gaining new prospects in the light of the Belarusian-Russian agreement on mutual recognition of visas that has been signed recently. Grigory Rapota is confident that with the document taking effect Minsk can become Karelia's gateway for tens of thousands of European tourists.
“Air communication with Minsk is very important for us. It will help address many issues,” the head of Karelia said. In his opinion, this will not only attract tourists to Karelia but also increase the mobility of Karelian residents, including young people. Regular flights will secure an efficient exchange of specialists and qualified personnel necessary for the project to produce the Belarusian forestry equipment in Karelia. “I am absolutely sure that there will be a good passenger flow,” Artur Parfenchikov said.