MINSK, 26 March (BelTA) – The Aviation Department of the Belarusian Transport and Communications Ministry is negotiating the possibility of keeping air connections with Russia, BelTA learned from the press service of the ministry.
Russia decided to halt regular and charter flights from Russian to foreign airports and in the opposite direction from 27 March 2020. Director of the Aviation Department Artem Sikorsky discussed this matter over the phone with Russia First Deputy Minister of Transport, Head of Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency Aleksandr Neradko. The parties showed interest in maintaining air connections between the two countries. “Belarus is committed to retaining air traffic between Belarus and Russia in view of the countries' close relations,” Artem Sikorsky said.
Earlier Russia closed its borders to foreigners, including Belarusians, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. At first it only allowed transit via Moscow's Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports provided that passengers do not leave the transit zone and depart for Belarus within 24 hours. Later Russia eased the restrictions, allowing Belarusians and other CIS citizens to transit via other airports.
Since then, the Belarusian air carrier Belavia has organized four charter flights to Moscow's Vnukovo airport to help Belarusians return home. The first flight on 20 March brought home 100 Belarusians. Another 82 people returned to Belarus on 23 March, and 70 more on 24 March. Belavia's fourth charter flight flew 138 Belarusian citizens from Moscow's Vnukovo airport to Minsk on 26 March.
In view of the coronavirus situation, the Aviation Department is monitoring air traffic and interacting with foreign aviation authorities, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other government bodies. The work to help return Belarusian citizens from Egypt in carried out in a timely manner and is set to finish by 27 March. So far, Belavia has already brought home more than 7,000 Belarusian tourists.
The Aviation Department follows the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization that stress the necessity to take measures to maintain air connections between countries while ensuring a high safety level. “We should introduce measures and undertake activities relying on scientific data and facts as well as on close cooperation,” the Belarusian ministry noted.