The cancellation of international flights during the coronavirus pandemic threatens to bankrupt multiple Russian airlines, acknowledges First Deputy Transport Minister and Federal Air Transport Agency head Alexander Neradko, according to a report by the news agency Interfax.
“Airlines’ falling revenues caused by closed international routes combined with increased costs because of the ruble’s depreciation could lead to significant losses and hardships for [Russia’s] civil aviation. In fact, air carriers are at risk of bankruptcy,” Neradko said on Tuesday, stating that Russian airlines lost an estimated 1.7 billion rubles ($22.7 million) due to the cancelation of flights to China in February (before coronavirus became a global pandemic). If the spread of coronavirus doesn’t slow before the end of the year, airlines by their own assessments could lose another 100 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) in revenues, says Neradko.
To keep airlines solvent, Neradko proposed suspending air-navigation fees in Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District and cutting these charges in half elsewhere around the country.
Due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus, Russia is closing its borders to virtually all foreign citizens between March 18 and May 1.