31 Jan 2020 18:04

Aeroflot to keep all regular flights to China despite coronavirus

MOSCOW. Jan 31 (Interfax) - Aeroflot will keep all its regular direct flights to China, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, head of the coronavirus operative response headquarters, said on Friday.

Regular flights to China will be restricted, with the exceptions of regular Aeroflot flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong, as well as regular flights by Chinese airlines to Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, Golikova said following a meeting at the coronavirus operative response headquarters on Friday.

"We are closing everything except Aeroflot, which will perform regular flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. Plus four Chinese airlines will perform regular flights to Moscow," she said.

All flights from China will arrive at Terminal F of Sheremetyevo Airport, and all Russian aviation authorities, along with Russian consumer protection and human wellbeing watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, will combine efforts to make sure that these passengers are directed to medical institutions, if need be, Golikova said.

Russia will ask China to keep slots open for Russian airlines so that Russian citizens wishing to return from China may be evacuated, she said.

The regulations will be introduced on February 1, Golikova said.

Apart from Aeroflot, S7 and Ural Airlines also perform regular flights from Russia to China. Chinese airlines flying to Sheremetyevo include Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Beijing Capital, and Hainan Airlines.

S7 said in a statement that "S7 Airlines has not yet received the relevant instructions from regulating authorities. We are monitoring the situation."

Ural Airlines has yet to say how their schedule might change.

Following earlier recommendations by the Federal Tourism Agency (Rostourism), Russian airlines, i.e. AZUR Air, Nordwind, IFly, and Ural Airlines, suspended charter air services with China. These were mainly flights to Hainan Island, a popular tourist destination.