After April 9, Russia plans to lift restrictions on flights to and from 52 countries as part of its efforts to reduce COVID-19-related measures, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Monday.
Russia intends to resume flights to and from Argentina, South Africa, and other “friendly countries,” according to Mishustin, referring to those that have not ratified the latest round of Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbor.
Russia imposed strict travel restrictions at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, many of which are still in effect, but it has gradually expanded the list of countries considered safe for air travel.
According to Russia’s coronavirus task force, other countries with which Russia will resume flights after April 9 include Algeria, China, Lebanon, Peru, and Pakistan.
Mishustin also stated that Russia would relax travel restrictions across the Russian-Chinese border.
In response to Ukraine-related sanctions targeting its aviation sector, Russia has closed its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including all 27 members of the European Union.
Western powers’ punitive measures have also forced Western firms to cancel leasing contracts with Russian airlines for over 500 aircraft.
The sanctions also prohibit Russian airlines from purchasing aircraft parts or maintenance services from Europe or the United States, compounding the pressure on the world’s 11th largest aviation market from a ban on using North American and European airspace.