Russian Airlines Set To Resume Flights To Cuba
Several Russian airlines, such as Nordwind Airlines, are planning to resume their international connectivity to Cuba in October, despite the ongoing sanctions imposed by the European Union, which will impact the route Russian airlines must follow.
Coming back to Cuba
The Caribbean nation has always been a hot destination for Russian travelers. In January 2022, there were 17 weekly flights from Russia to Cuba, operated by four airlines (Aeroflot, Azur Air, Nordwind, and Royal Flight Airlines). Nonetheless, these commercial services were quickly scrapped in February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions by the European Union which forbade Russian aircraft and airlines to fly through the EU’s airspace.
Things are about to change, though. On October 1, Nordwind Airlines expects to resume its services to Varadero and Cayo Coco, according to local reports. Pegas Touristik, the Russian tour operator owner of the carrier, expects to open up to four flights per week on the route Moscow-Varadero, and three flights per week to Cayo Coco. Nordwind Airlines would use its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to operate these services.
Juan Carlos Escalona, Cuba’s Tourism counselor in Russia, said that the Caribbean country is ready to receive back Russian tourists, and he expects more tour operators and airlines to follow the example of Pegas Touristik and Nordwind Airlines.
How will Nordwind operate these routes?
In the past, Russian airlines could go through the European Union airspace en route to destinations in Latin America (in January, there were 45 weekly flights from Russia to this region). Nonetheless, the sanctions have made it impossible for Russian carriers to employ the EU’s airspace, except for unique one-time-only exceptions, such as the two Volga Dnepr Ilyushin IL-765D-90VDs that have been recently flying between Russia and the Czech Republic.
Nordwind will have to employ a different path to get to Cuba. We have an idea of what that will look like. Between August 5 and 11, Nordwind operated three flights between Moscow Vnukovo Airport (VKO) and Caracas Simon Bolivar International (CCS). The airline employed a Boeing 777-300ER, registration RA-73342, for these services.
To operate these services, the crew flew north from Moscow into the Barents Sea, avoiding the airspace of countries such as Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Then it went west through the Norwegian Sea before going south between Greenland and Iceland and flying through the Atlantic Ocean without entering the Canadian and US airspaces.
The return flight from Caracas to Moscow followed almost the exact same path, except it now went east from Iceland instead of west. The average flight times for both flights were 13:00 and 12:10 hours, respectively.
More airlines coming?
In a statement, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) said that several Russian airlines plan to resume flights to Cuba in the short term. In a report by Russia’s news agency, TASS, it was said,
“The head of the Federal Air Transport Agency, Alexander Neradko, informed Cuban partners that in order to develop tourism between the two countries, several Russian airlines plan to resume flights to Cuba in the near future.”