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Russia Urges Citizens to Avoid Flying Turkish Airlines to Latin America

Turkish Airlines planes at Istanbul Airport. A.Savin / commons.wikimedia

The Russian Embassy in Turkey has urged citizens to avoid flying Turkish Airlines due to a recent uptick in passengers being denied boarding on connecting flights from Istanbul to Latin American destinations.

“We’re compelled to advise our citizens to carefully weigh the advisability of using the services of this airline,” the embassy said in a statement Monday.

It accused Turkish Airlines of turning away Russian passengers from boarding flights to Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama and other Latin American countries without explanation in recent weeks.

“The issue exists and it’s a serious one. And it’s unclear to us to what extent the Turkish authorities realize its seriousness,” the Russian embassy said, adding that the Turkish foreign ministry has provided “no clear reaction” to its written and verbal complaints.

Travel news outlets reported in early March that Turkish Airlines denied boarding to a handful of Russian passengers bound for cities like Buenos Aires and Sao Paolo for reasons including a lack of baggage, unsuitable documents and no travel history.

Turkish Airlines around that time published additional rules for flights to South America, which were linked to concerns over a reported surge in the number of Turkish asylum seekers seeking to reach the United States.

The Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) noted that citizens of other countries in addition to those of Russia are denied boarding on Turkish Airlines transfers to Latin American countries.

ATOR also attributed the denials to concerns about illegal immigration to the United States. There has been a surge in Russians crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Shot, a Telegram news channel with purported links to Russia’s security services, estimated that around 1,000 Russians have been denied boarding on flights to Latin America from Istanbul.

On Tuesday, the Russian Embassy in Ankara advised recommendations for passengers denied boarding, including contacting the Russian consulate in Istanbul and pursuing legal action against Turkish Airlines.

Turkey has become a key transit hub for travel to and from Russia due to mutual airspace bans between Russia and Western countries imposed following the invasion of Ukraine.

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