Despite the fact that direct flights between most of Europe and Russia have been suspended, travelers may still take advantage of one-stop travels, with Belgrade serving as the primary aviation hub for east-west connections.
One of the world’s biggest airlines – including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines – is still running flights from their hubs to Russian locations, according to a story published in the British newspaper The Independent.
According to the report, each of these airlines has been requested to comment on whether or not they would continue to operate in Russia.
Turkish Airlines, for example, operates four flights per day between Istanbul and Moscow, as well as two flights per day between Istanbul and St Petersburg. A direct flight from Dublin to Istanbul makes connecting flights feasible with a single stopover in the process.
A same-day flight from Dublin through Istanbul to Moscow Vnukovo is priced at €847.75 round-trip on the Turkish Airlines website for next week’s departure.
According to The Independent, Turkish Airlines has temporarily halted service between Istanbul and the southern Russian towns of Rostov and Sochi.
Air Serbia, the national airline located in Belgrade, is said to have increased the number of flights between the city and Moscow Sheremetyevo airport in order to meet the increased demand, the newspaper adds.
For travel on Friday, March 11, the roundtrip ticket from London Heathrow was £544/€714, depending on the airline. For future travel, the price drops by more than half on select days, such as April 4, when the ticket drops to £249/€327 round-trip.
Air Serbia also provides connections to Moscow from cities such as Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, and Rome through Belgrade.
ForwardKeys, a company that analyzes aviation data, reveals that capacity booked for the first week of March increased by around 50%.
This equates to an increase in the number of flights available between Belgrade and Moscow from two to three per day.
According to the company, 60 percent more airplane tickets were provided for travel from Russia to another destination through Serbia in the week after the invasion than were issued during the whole month of January.
“What’s most striking is the rapidity with which Serbia has established itself as a gateway for travel between Russia and Europe,” said Olivier Ponti, vice-president for insights at ForwardKeys.
During the month of January, 85 percent of all transfers from Russia through Serbia went to the neighboring country of Montenegro, according to official data.
In the first week after the invasion, the proportion dropped to 40%, as Serbia became a transit point for travelers heading to western Europe.
Russian domestic aviation has decreased by over half (49 percent), according to ForwardKeys, since Vladimir Putin launched the assault of Ukraine.