Russian tourists evacuated from Cuba on charter flights
Varadero (Cuba) (AFP) – About 900 Russians took chartered flights home from a Cuban resort town on Sunday as airspace bans imposed after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine complicated travel for tourists around the world.
Dozens of countries, including European Union nations and the United States, have banned Russian planes from their airspace as part of sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy.
Russia retaliated by barring its airspace to multiple countries, including 35 European nations.
An airport official in Varadero, a resort town near Havana, told the press that 927 Russian passengers flew to Moscow on Sunday, among them a group from the Dominican Republic.
Another 940 tourists will depart on Monday, the official said.
Cuban media reported Friday that the 5,570 Russians on vacation in Varadero would return on Nordwind Airlines charter flights.
Nordwind has suspended their regular flights to Cuba, along with fellow Russian carriers Aeroflot and Azur Air.
- Vacation interrupted -
Alexei Nekrashevich, a 48-year-old tourist, told AFP that his trip ended abruptly "because of the situation over there (in Ukraine).
"It's unfortunate that we had to fly a little early and that we didn't get enough rest," he said.
Nearly 15,000 Russian and 2,000 Ukrainian tourists are stranded in the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean country's government said Wednesday.
The Dominican Republic said it had reached a deal with hotel chains to guarantee the tourists' accommodation until a solution is found.
Nordwind will operate four weekly charter flights from Moscow to the Cuban tourist resort towns of Varadero and Cayo Coco.
International sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine could have wide-ranging impacts on its Latin American allies such as Cuba, experts say.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Russian tourists have become the single largest group of visitors to the island nation.
The arrival of Russian visitors to Cuba increased almost 200 percent since 2019, helping the island's battered tourism industry, which collapsed with the pandemic and the tightening of US sanctions.
© 2022 AFP