After Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of reservists for Russia’s war in Ukraine, prices for international flights departing Russia this week skyrocketed and nearly every flight leaving Moscow or St. Petersburg sold out through the weekend. But with airspace restrictions in place and a dramatic decrease in international flight options for Russian travelers since February, where are these flights going?
What destinations are still available?
Following the closure of EU airspace to Russian aircraft and the reciprocal ban of EU aircraft by Russia, international flight options available to Russian travelers are limited. By a wide margin, the most popular destination (or transit point) is Turkey. Of the more than 75,000 international departures from Russia so far in 2022, 25% of flights have flown to Turkey.
The chart above shows the most popular destinations for flights departing Russia. While Turkey has long been a popular destination for Russian travelers, the lack of options has led to increased travel there.
Holiday making on the Mediterranean
With holiday destinations outside Russia limited, flights to Antalya have boomed. Flights to Antalya peaked this year with 543 weekly departures from Russia in the final week of August.
Which airlines are flying to Turkey?
The Superjet — an unlikely international workhorse
Following its invasion of Ukraine, Russia lost the ability to operate much of its commercial aircraft fleet outside Russia. Most of the aircraft operating for Russian airlines are leased from foreign lessors and subject to sanctions and repossession if they leave Russia.
Russian airlines have thus turned to the Superjet, a domestically developed regional airliner. As the most popular Russian aircraft, the Superjet has taken on an outsized role in international flying by Russian airlines.
In 2022, before the war, there were between 4 and 29 weekly Superjet departures from Moscow to destinations outside Russia. After the invasion that quickly grew to over 100 weekly departures, peaking at 242 departures during the first week of July. Airlines also dramatically increased Superjet departures from Sochi, Mineralnye Vody, and Yekaterinburg.