Russia-Ukraine War: Russian airlines out of exit tickets

Putin's announcement, made in an early-morning television address, raised fears that some men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave Russia.

 A view shows the first Airbus A350-900 aircraft of Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot during a media presentation at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia March 4, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)
A view shows the first Airbus A350-900 aircraft of Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot during a media presentation at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia March 4, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)

One-way flights out of Russia were selling out fast on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists.

Ukrainian media outlet Pravda reported on Wednesday that the websites of Russian airlines have completely run out of tickets for the nearest flights to visa-free countries, in particular to Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. This report cited Russian media outlet RBC Group. 

Putin's announcement, made in an early-morning television address, raised fears that some men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave Russia.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the call-up would be limited to those with experience as professional soldiers, and that students and those who had only served as conscripts would not be called up.

Nevertheless, Google Trends data showed a spike in searches for Aviasales, which is Russia's most popular website for purchasing flights.

 REFUGEES FROM Ukraine and Russia board their aliyah flight at Chisinau Airport. (credit: BRIAN SCHRAUGER) REFUGEES FROM Ukraine and Russia board their aliyah flight at Chisinau Airport. (credit: BRIAN SCHRAUGER)

Where are the flights going?

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul in Turkey and Yerevan in Armenia, both destinations that allow Russians to enter without a visa, were sold out on Wednesday, according to Aviasales data.

Some routes with stopovers, including those from Moscow to Tbilisi, were also unavailable, while the cheapest flights from the capital to Dubai were costing more than 300,000 roubles ($5,000) - about five times the average monthly wage.