To Bypass An Eu Flying Ban Russians Use A Serbian Loophole

Flights between Moscow and Belgrade have more than quadrupled since the country’s jets are now permitted to fly through EU territory. Russians are taking advantage of a vulnerability known as the “Serbian backdoor” to escape to Europe and avoid a ban on flights to and from Russia that has been imposed throughout the EU.

As a result of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has barred Russian aircraft and airlines from its airspace, prompting Air Serbia, which is mostly state-owned, to raise the number of direct flights from Moscow to Belgrade to 15 per week in order to fulfill fast expanding demand. Russia replied by blocking its airspace to flights from the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Serbia is not even a member of the European Union and has declined to impose sanctions on Russia, but its aircraft are free to fly across EU airspace at any time. According to travel analytics business ForwardKeys, this has rendered the Balkan nation “the sole European aviation route that is still available to Russian air traffic.”

According to ForwardKeys, airline seat capacity between Russia and Serbia jumped by 50% in the first week of March as compared to the week before Russian tanks went into Ukraine. Company officials said they want to raise capacity by a significant amount even more in the coming weeks.

“What’s most striking is how quickly Serbia has established itself as a transit point between Russia and Europe,” said Olivier Ponti, vice-president of insights at ForwardKeys.

On their way to Europe, most Russians landing in Serbia are heading to Cyprus, France, Switzerland or Italy as their final destination. Russians are also making their way to the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, and Spain, among other destinations.

Currently, there is just one business class ticket available on a trip departing on Saturday from Moscow to Belgrade, which costs £583, and there are no economy class seats available at this moment.

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