After Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists, one-way flights out of Russia skyrocketed in price and sold up fast as men of fighting age tried to leave the country. Ticket prices were reportedly nine times more expensive than they typically would be in some cases after Putin’s speech.
Urge to leave
On Wednesday morning, Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of the country’s 25 million reservists to add troops deployed in Ukraine. It is Russia’s first military mobilization since World War Two, escalating the conflict in Ukraine and possibly costing more lives.
Putin said he would call up to 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine. He also backed a plan to annex parts of the country and hinted he was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.
After Russian president ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists, one-way flights out of Russia skyrocketed in price. The government quickly forced airlines to stop selling tickets to Russian men aged 18 to 65. Photo: Getty Images.
Despite Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu saying that the call-up would be limited to those with experience as professional soldiers (leaving students and conscripts out of the call), the announcement raised the alarms throughout Russia. As reported by Reuters, fares for one-way flights out of Russia rocketed and sold out fast. Google Trends data showed a spike in searches for Aviasales, Russia’s most popular flight-booking site.
Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia (destinations that allow Russians to enter without a visa) were sold out on Wednesday. Moreover, Reuters reports that Turkish Airlines flights from Moscow to Istanbul were all booked until Sunday.
No way out
A few hours after the spike in one-way flights out of Russia, the government told domestic airlines to stop selling tickets to Russian men aged 18 to 65 unless they could provide evidence of approval to travel from the Ministry of Defense.
Media outlets reported that, at some point, flights to the capitals of Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan were unavailable at Aviasales.
Prices out of Russia were as high as US$2,700. Photo: Getty Images.
On Wednesday, the cheapest flights to Dubai cost more than 300,000 roubles (about US$5,000), which is approximately five times the average monthly wage in Russia. When available, one-way fares to Turkey rise up to 70,000 roubles (US$1,150). A week ago, these fares were a little over 22,000 roubles, according to Google Flights. Simple Flying did a quick search of fares as of Wednesday afternoon, using Google Flights data.
- Moscow-Yerevan: Red Wings is the only available flight for Thursday. The most economical ticket was US$2,706.
- Moscow-Istanbul: Air Arabia and Azerbaijan Airlines appeared as the only options, with layovers at Sharjah and Baku. Prices were US$408 and $1,023, respectively.
- Moscow-Tbilisi: Azerbaijan Airlines was the only available airline. Prices were at US$937
- Moscow-Dubai: Azerbaijan Airlines was the only available option, with prices ranging between US$1,194 and 1,250.
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