In an optimistic scenario, international air travel may resume around mid-summer, according to Yulia Spivakova, the press secretary for Aeroflot, Russia’s largest carrier. Although it is too early to name specific dates, according to a very optimistic forecast, flights may begin in July, she added.
“We can’t rule out that, in the nearest future, we will see recommendations or even a requirement to provide certain distances between passengers [in the aircraft cabin],” she revealed to Rossiya 24, the state-run TV broadcasting company. “So far, we can firmly state that we will continue with the reinforced disinfection measures on our aircraft for as long as such a necessity prevails,” Spivakova concluded.
Russia closed its borders and suspended all international travel following the March 27 decision of the Russian government’s coordination council in a move that was directed at mitigating the spread of Coronavirus. From April 17, Aeroflot shut down its ticket sales for international flights, until there is some certainty as to when the flight restrictions could be removed.
Three weeks ago, Russian president Vladimir Putin proposed to the cabinet an allocation of a total of 23 billion roubles (US$310 million) subsidies to airlines, but no further action has been taken in this direction so far, even though all carriers are bleeding.
In the meantime, to battle the cash crunch, Aeroflot is to offer vouchers and discounts to those passengers unable to travel due to COVID-19. The vouchers will cover the cost of the fare and will be valid for three years. Tickets for all domestic and international flights are eligible across fare classes.
Aeroflot is also offering additional incentives to encourage passengers to make future bookings using the new vouchers, such as a one-off 15 per cent discount on the cost of a ticket of the same fare for their new flight. For passengers holding Flex fare class tickets, the one-time discount will be 25 per cent.
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