After months of blockades to Russian commercial flights, the first batch of tourists arrived this weekend at Venezuela's Margarita Island on a Nordwind charter service, it was reported.
A total of 417 Russian travelers landed Saturday at Margarita in northeastern Venezuela after seven months of restrictions following President Vladimir Putin's military deployment in Ukraine.
Nordwind had been trying for months to be allowed to operate on a neutral route avoiding US and European airspace, according to Pegas Touristik, in charge of offering package tours in Russia. The route was carefully worked out by the tour operator and the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency.
The carrier also had to process and coordinate a series of permits that lasted throughout the summer, according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) in September.
Nordwind opened in August 2021 a direct route between Moscow and Margarita Island, which made the destination popular among Russians thanks to vacation packages that local tour operators started offering. But seven months ago the connection was interrupted due to international sanctions imposed on Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine.
The Venezuelan government expects to welcome before December some 100,000 Russian tourists after reaching a frequency of five weekly flights.
Moscow has been a key ally of Venezuela since the times of the late President Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) and has been carried on under Nicolás Maduro who, through this relationship, has been able to circumvent sanctions against his government. Venezuela's flag carrier Conviasa still serves Moscow from Caracas.
Starting this month, Nordwind will once again serve Cuban destinations such as Varadero and Cayo Coco, Pegas Touristik reported. The route to Varadero will have four weekly frequencies on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, seating up to 400 passengers.
Other Russian carriers are expected to resume services to Cuba shortly.
(Read also https://en.mercopress.com/2022/08/26/european-cruise-ship-to-dock-at-margarita-island-after-15-years )