New Flight Set to Boost Russia-U.A.E. Tourism

New Flight Set to Boost Russia-U.A.E. Tourism

Published: September 21, 2011 (Issue # 1675)

Emirates airlines is to launch a daily service connecting St. Petersburg and Dubai from Nov. 1.

The new flight will be the airline’s second gateway into Russia after Moscow, where the company started operating in 2003 and from where it currently offers a twice-daily service. St. Petersburg will become the company’s 115th destination, and the fourth new route to be opened this year, alongside Copenhagen, Basra and Geneva.

“There are many reasons for flying to St. Petersburg: It is an important and dynamic business region, and it is a city known for its rich cultural heritage,” said Richard Vaughan, senior vice-president of commercial operations worldwide for Emirates.

St. Petersburg has become the airline’s northernmost destination. “We have now earned the right to call the city our own ‘northern capital’,” Vaughan said, referring to St. Petersburg’s nickname as the northern capital of Russia.

In 2010, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) numbered among the top 10 most active foreign investors in the Russian economy, said St. Petersburg’s deputy governor Yury Molchanov. “We hope that the arrival of Emirates in the city will further boost the economic ties between our countries,” Molchanov said.

It is also expected that the influx of tourists from the East will grow after the launch of the new service. According to Vaughan, the Emirates Holiday, the company’s subsidiary tour operator, is getting ready to enter the Russian market, and Arabian Adventures, one of U.A.E.’s leading tour operators, is already busy working on its St. Petersburg packages.

The United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular have recently become one of the most popular travel destinations among Russian tourists. According to Dubai’s Tourism and Marketing Board, in the first quarter of this year, U.A.E. received more than 80,000 visitors from Russia, a 27-percent hike on the previous year. St. Petersburg’s travel industry players are convinced the flow of locals to Dubai will grow dramatically in the coming year.

“We have been working on the launch of the Emirates flight to the northern capital for several years; the project has been made possible with the substantial support of the St. Petersburg government and the Russian Union of Travel Industry,” said Sergei Emdin, head of Northern Capital Gateway, the consortium that operates Pulkovo airport.

“With the launch of the new flight to Dubai, the airport will significantly expand its route network.”

Salem Obaidalla, Emirates’ senior vice president of commercial operations for Europe and Russia, said it is estimated that at least 50 percent of the airline’s Russian passengers will travel to Dubai as their final destination

Yegor Plakhov, Emirates’ manager for Russia and the CIS, said the minimum cost of a St. Petersburg-Dubai flight, including all taxes, will start from 18,000 rubles ($574) for a return flight. Prices for business class start from 80,000 rubles ($2,550), while first class will set passengers back 122,000 rubles ($3,900).

From St. Petersburg, the flight departs at 6.45 p.m. and gets to Dubai at 12.40 a.m. the following day. The inbound flight will take off from Dubai at 10.40 a.m., landing in St. Petersburg at 5.15 p.m.

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