Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot will resume direct passenger flights on two exotic routes between Moscow (SVO), Phuket (HKT), and Seychelles (SEZ), according to multiple media reports.  

Despite being almost fully barred from the international air travel market due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the carrier plans to resume direct flights from Moscow to Phuket from October 30, 2022, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said. 

The winter months could see a spike in the number of arrivals from Russia, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, reported by the Bangkok Post on August 3, 2022.  

If the airline succeeds in restarting regular operations to the island, which were suspended in March 2022, the move could notably boost Thailand’s tourism industry and accelerate the country’s recovery post-pandemic.  

A top executive of Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot, Vladimir Alexandrov, was found guilty of major fraud and was sentenced to imprisonment. 

TAT estimates that more than 3 million international travelers have arrived in Thailand between January and July 2022, of which 76,700 were from Russia.  

But Phuket is not the only exotic destination Aeroflot has set its sights on.  According to the Seychelles News Agency (SNA), Russia’s largest airline is also considering the return of operations to Seychelles within a few months. However, this has not yet been confirmed because Aeroflot is yet to finalize discussions over a potential direct air link to the destination.   

Speaking to SNA on August 3, 2022, Bernadette Willemin, the director general for destination marketing at Seychelles Tourism Board, said that the airline has already shown its “great interest” in resuming a route to the destination.  

“Although we cannot yet confirm the dates, we have been informed by our partners that a potential flight for October is available in the booking system,” Willemin said.  

Aeroflot will switch to Tupolev Tu-214 as its main aircraft, the Russian Minister of Transport has announced

Meanwhile, the Russian Consulate in Seychelles noted that Russia and Seychelles have a valid air service agreement, and “the restart of the Aeroflot flight will be in strict accordance with this agreement,” the embassy told SNA.  

Aeroflot has already resumed flights to Seychelles in April 2021. The move resulted in 32,000 Russian travelers entering the country at the time. However, the carrier dropped the route in March 2022 as it stopped serving international destinations, except for some flights to Minsk, after it was banned from international airspace.  

Russia will allocate 770 billion rubles to develop the country’s air transport industry by the end of 2030 in a bid to boost home-grown aircraft production.