In the hours after President Vladimir Putin announced an escalation of the War in Ukraine via military mobilization, one-way flights out of Russia quickly sold out over the next several days.
After Putin Speech, Flights Out Of Russia Sell Out
In a television address earlier today, Putin called up 300,000 reservists and insisted that the “special military operation” in Ukraine would press on. Putin further warned that “all options are on the table” as Russia seeks to “protect” its “territorial integrity.” Ukraine has recently made territorial advances, catching Russia by surprise and prompting separatist areas to rush sham referendums on whether to be annexed by Russia. In threatening the use of nuclear weapons and the deployment of hundreds of thousands of reservists, Putin makes clear that he is willing to destroy Eastern Ukraine in order to “liberate” it.
With fears that men of fighting age will not be allowed to leave Russia (this is already true in Ukraine), one-way ticket searches and bookings surged in the hours after Putin’s television address. Per Reuters, Google Trends immediately saw a spike in searches for one-way flights out of Russia on Viasales, which is the most popular online travel booking platform in Russia.
Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Turkey and Yerevan, Armenia quickly sold out for the rest of the week and into next week. Available flights next week are running at 3x normal cost (now pricing at 70,000 roubles one-way, approximately $1,150). Both nations allow visa-free access for citizens of Russia. Even connecting itineraries via Tbilisi, Georgia or Belgrade, Serbia are now sold out. One-way tickets to Dubai have skyrocketed to 300,000 roubles (approximately $5,000), which is about five times the average monthly wage in Russia.
While the Kremlin has not clarified if borders would be closed to those of conscript age, it did stress that today’s order will be limited to professional soldiers and that students would be exempted. But the order itself makes no such carve-out.
Declaring an unjust war, losing ground, then escalating it in desperation has sent Russians scrambling to leave the country. Flights to visa-free zones are now sold out for the rest of the week and even connecting itineraries are filling up quickly and rising in price even more quickly.
If there was any hope that the recent advances by Ukraine might lead to a brokered peace deal, we now have the answer: Putin is digging in…but Russians are flying out.
image: Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport