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Budget flights from Moscow to Dubai hit $5,000 as Russians flee


The airline industry has been crippled by a perfect storm of challenges in recent weeks, ranging from labor shortages and supply disruptions to rising fuel prices.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — One-way economy class flights from Moscow to Dubai cost up to $5,000 and many sold out in the days following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of a “partial” mobilization of 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine.

The approximately five-hour flight cost around $350 a week before the September 21 announcement.

Current prices on UAE airlines Emirates and FlyDubai for the month between September 28 and October 26 range between $2,577 and $4,773 for a one-way economy class ticket, according to these websites. Airlines companies. The cheapest of these prices is more than 2.5 times the average Russian monthly salary of $965, according to Statista.com. Direct flights to Dubai from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, cost around $2,600.

One-way economy class flights to Abu Dhabi from Moscow cost around $3,000 on Etihad Airways.

Connecting flights are available at lower fares, but still significantly above average, according to Google Travel. An economy-class ticket to Dubai on Azerbaijan Airlines with a stopover in Baku cost between $988 and $1,040 the week of September 28 to October 6, about triple its price before the mobilization was announced.

“Russians are coming out of the dodge,” Ian Bremmer, CEO of risk consultancy Eurasia Group, wrote on Twitter, alongside a video from flight-tracking site Flightradar24.com showing masses of planes leaving the Russia in a few days.

For those with more money to spend, seats on private jets are an option, but their prices have also skyrocketed. Russians “pay between £20,000 and £25,000 [$21,300 and $26,600] for a seat on a private plane,” The Guardian wrote in a report on Tuesday, several times higher than normal prices, citing the head of a private airline who said demand had increased 50-fold.

Flights from Russia in general have risen in price and many sold out entirely in the days following the news, and satellite images as well as images posted to news outlets and social media show long lines cars backed up for miles on Russia’s borders with Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan and several other countries. Kazakhstan’s government said it welcomed nearly 100,000 Russians last week.

A general view of downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on December 08, 2021.

Satish Kumar | Reuters

But the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular, are favorites for Russian travelers and expats. Already since Western countries imposed a wave of sanctions on Russia after Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine on February 24, large volumes of Russians have moved to the sunny desert emirate where they can live without sanctions.

They are also credited with boosting Dubai’s luxury real estate sector, as oligarchs and other wealthy businessmen snap up multimillion-dollar seaside villas, some for living in and living in. others as a place to park their money.

Before Russia launched its war against Ukraine, the Russian population living in the United Arab Emirates was around 40,000 people. It’s all but certain to be over now.

“Everyone is leaving. So many people I know,” a Russian national living in Dubai, who spoke anonymously amid concerns for her safety, told CNBC.

“Flights [from Russia] in Dubai are fully booked for the next 3-4 days and the prices are crazy. Flights to Istanbul are also full, flights to [Armenian capital] Yerevan is very expensive. I know five, six people who arrived in Dubai just a few days ago. They paid insane prices.”

“The problem,” she added, “is that until you receive the document that calls you for military service, you may be allowed to leave the country. However, you cannot simply stay at home. outside the country because you don’t have a residence anywhere else.”

She said many Russians arriving in Dubai to flee a military deployment were staying at the homes of friends and family members. But after the 60-day UAE tourist visa period, the plan is unknown.

A Dubai-based British pilot described Russian friends and colleagues seeking ways to get themselves or their loved ones to other countries.

“People say that their friends have already received draft letters ‘even though they have no military experience,’ the pilot said, ‘so this story that Russia only mobilizes people with military experience is bullshit —.” The Kremlin tried to allay Russian fears about the deployment by insisting that only people who had undergone prior training would be called up.

The pilot, who spoke anonymously due to work restrictions, added that he had also received a request from a Russian acquaintance asking to live in his Dubai apartment.

It is unclear what many of these people plan to do once their visitor visas expire, and those residing in Dubai now fear returning to Russia. The scenario they fear most, many say, is that Putin closes the borders to prevent military-age men from leaving before they or their families can get out.

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