Amid pandemic, Murmansk gets new direct flights throughout Russia

New direct routes to Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod round out a growing list of direct flights from the Arctic hub to cities other than Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Passengers queue at the Nikolai II Murmansk International Airport (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

This week, new direct flights take off from the Russian Arctic city of Murmansk to Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod.

Domestic travel by the Aeroflot Group was up 19.4 percent year on year in March, a number rather unusual for the global aviation industry, considering that March 2020 was before COVID-19 restrictions were triggered in Russia. In addition to the national flag carrier, the Aeroflot Group includes the airlines Rossiya, Aurora and Pobeda.

Growth in passengers comes as domestic tourism got a boost after borders were closed. Murmansk is one of the regions that have seen growth in the number of Russian tourists.

Unlike previous years, passengers now have a wide selection of direct domestic routes, avoiding connecting flights via the hubs in Moscow or St. Petersburg.

Nordwind Airlines this week started to fly directly to Kazan, the regional capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. The route is operated twice a week with an Embraer E-Jet 190.

Another route launched this Wednesday by the same airline is Murmansk to Nizhny Novgorod, also that twice a week.

In addition to those, there are this spring direct flights from Murmansk to Arkhangelsk, Anapa, Mineralnye Vody, Cherepovets, Chelyabinsk, Krasnodar, Sochi, Simferpol, Rostov-na-Don and Kaliningrad. Most flights, however, are still to Moscow and St. Petersburg with three to four flights daily.