UAE and Russia sign agreement to boost air traffic

Countries will hold new round of talks in the first half of 2020 in St Petersburg

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan attend the official welcome ceremony in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 15, 2019. Alexander Zemlianichenko/ Pool via REUTERS
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The UAE and Russia signed an agreement to boost air traffic to different cities within the two countries following a round of aviation talks at the Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre in the capital, Abu Dhabi.

The two countries signed a preliminary agreement following the discussions and intend to hold a new round of talks in the first half of 2020 in St Petersburg, Russia's second biggest city after Moscow, according to the UAE's state news agency Wam.

"The UAE is also keen to expand tourism and trade links by strengthening air transport services with all countries of the world," the agency said.

The agreement comes amid a visit by Vladimir Putin to the UAE on Tuesday as the Russian President makes his first official visit since 2007. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, welcomed the Russian leader and will discuss co-operation and regional and international developments. The visit coincides with UAE-Russia Week — a cultural collaboration of Russian and Emirati heritage.

Russia is a key source market for tourism into the UAE. Dubai, the commercial and trading hub of the Middle East, and the UAE overall have been implementing measures to boost tourism to the country, including granting Russian and Chinese citizens visas on arrival, moves that have helped boost visitor numbers from the respective countries.

Russia rose two places to sixth position as a source market of inbound tourism into Dubai with a 28 per cent uptick in the number of travellers to 678,000 in 2018, according to Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

The UAE's national carriers are expanding into new destinations in Russia to meet demand for air travel in the main cities and underserved routes. In June, flydubai became the first airline from the Arabian Gulf to offer direct flights to Sochi, one of the major tourism hubs in Russia, located on the Black Sea.

During Mr Putin's visit to the UAE, at least 15 deals are expected to be signed across space, technology and defence sectors.

The UAE-Russia air transport talks were chaired by Omar Ghalib Bin Ghalib, deputy director general of the General Authority of Civil Aviation. Local civil aviation departments and representatives of major UAE airlines including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia and flydubai also participated in the discussions.