More than 400 Russian tourists have been stuck in Turkey for two days after two Boeing 777 aircraft belonging to Red Wings Airlines suffered technical problems and were unable to fly. The tourists were supposed to return to Yekaterinburg from Antalya on Saturday, but their flight was repeatedly delayed without explanation.
According to the aviation industry, one of the planes was being repaired at Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport, while the other had a jet engine cooling system malfunction that prevented it from taking off from Antalya. The incident caused some passengers to faint and one to have a panic attack.
Red Wings Airlines said it had borrowed an additional aircraft from Ikar, another Russian charter airline, to transport the stranded tourists back to Yekaterinburg on Monday. The airline apologized for the inconvenience and said it was doing everything possible to resolve the situation.
The breakdown of the planes is a blow to Turkey’s tourism sector, which relies heavily on Russian visitors. Russia is the top source of foreign tourists for Turkey, with 4.7 million Russians entering the country in 2021.
However, due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the number of Russian tourists is expected to drop significantly in 2022. Some experts estimate that only two million Russians will visit Turkey this year, which could cost the country up to $4 billion in tourism revenues.
Turkey’s tourism industry has been struggling to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which reduced the number of foreign visitors by 69% in 2020 compared with 2019. The country has also faced travel restrictions and warnings from some European countries due to its human rights record and involvement in regional conflicts.