Turkey and Russia liberalise bilateral restrictions

Moscow
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Turkey and Russia have concluded a wide-ranging bilateral agreement to enhance air services and mutually broaden access to their airspace for commercial carriers.

The pact, signed in Istanbul, envisages increasing frequencies, airport slots and removing restrictions for flights between several Turkish and Russian provinces.

In particular, in enables the addition of 61 flights from Istanbul, Ankara and Trabzon to Krasnodar, Ufa, Kazan, Omsk, Moscow, Rostov and Sochi, as well as new destinations from Russia to Samsun, Gaziantep and Nevsehir with no frequency restrictions.

Turkey's carriers will be allowed to fly through Russian airspace to the other eight Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member countries without any restrictions on frequencies.

They could also benefit from overflying Siberia on routes to Japan, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, although that will be limited to 21 flights a week.

The two sides have lifted restrictions from freight, charter and VIP services. To increase connectivity, they have agreed to encourage the designated carriers to apply for approval of interline and codesharing arrangements.

After the lifting of visas two years ago, air traffic between the two countries has increased more than threefold, with some 3.5 million Russian tourists visiting Turkey in 2012.

Turkish Airlines' representative in Moscow, Mefail Deribash, says the carrier is looking to transport 800,000 passengers on its services to eight Russian cities this year. In 2005, it carried 60.000 on a single Istanbul-Moscow route.

The carrier has signed a codeshare agreement with Tatartstan Airlines on Istanbul-Kazan services. Deribash says it is in advanced discussions about codesharing with UTair, S7 and Ural Airlines.