Russians Enter Europe through a Serbian Loophole
The Russians are using a loophole known as the “Serbian back door” to circumvent the EU-wide ban on flights to and from Russia, the Guardian reported.
The state-owned Air Serbia has doubled its number of direct flights from Moscow to Belgrade to 15 a week to meet growing demand after the EU banned Russian planes and airlines from its airspace over Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Russia has responded by closing its airspace to EU and UK aircraft.
Serbia is not a member of the EU and has refused to impose sanctions on Russia, but its planes are free to cross EU airspace. This made the Balkan country “the only European air corridor left open to Russia”, according to travel analysis company ForwardKeys.
Airline capacity between Russia and Serbia increased by 50% in the first week of March compared to the week before Russian tanks entered Ukraine, ForwardKeys reported. The capacity is expected to be increased in the coming weeks, according to the company. “The most remarkable thing is the speed with which Serbia has become a corridor for travel between Russia and Europe,” said Olivier Ponti, vice president of ForwardKeys. Russians arriving in Serbia travel to Europe, with Cyprus, France, Switzerland and Italy as leading destinations. The Russians also travel to the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Spain.
At the time of writing, there is only one seat left in business class for Saturday's £ 583 flight from Moscow to Belgrade. There are no places in economy class.
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