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Cyprus, Russia looking to resolve passenger ban

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Nicosia said Tuesday it is doing everything necessary to get Russia to overturn a ban on Cyprus Airways flying passengers to Moscow, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told CNA.

Karousos said the Russian Federation’s Department of Civil Aviation informed Cyprus Airways by email that its aircraft could transport passengers from Russia to Cyprus but not vice versa.

This means Cyprus Airways flights from Larnaca must arrive in Russia empty to bring back passengers.

The Minister said it appears the decision was part of the package of measures Russia has taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Karousos said clarifications have been requested.

“The government will do everything possible, even at the highest level, if necessary, to solve this issue.”

The Russian embassy in Nicosia said it was also trying to solve the Cyprus Airways issue in coordination with authorities.

The Russian Embassy on Tuesday posted on social media that it is monitoring the situation with Cyprus Airways while taking steps to resolve it.

Cyprus Airways said it cannot sell tickets for its scheduled weekly flights from Larnaca to Moscow because Russian authorities have banned it carrying passengers.

The airline started flights from Larnaca to Moscow (Domodedovo airport) at the end of November, but it is unable to sell tickets as Russia says it cannot carry inward bound passengers.

“The Russian authorities have not given us, so far, a concrete answer as to why and this is the reason we hope the Cyprus government will assist,” a company source told the Financial Mirror.

For now, Cyprus Airways flights from Larnaca to Moscow (every Thursday) will depart empty as it can only sell tickets for the Moscow to Larnaca route.

The Larnaca-based airline called the decision “arbitrary” by “limiting or completely prohibiting” Cyprus Airways to carry passengers to the Russian Federation.

Cyprus categorises Russia as a COVID-19 high-risk category C country which means entry is restricted, negative tests are required and a 14-day quarantine mandatory.