ANKARA (AA) – The Russian government decision to refuse visas to Turkish flight crews is against international civil aviation rules, Turkish Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister said on Wednesday.
“This practice is an arbitrary and is incompatible with international aviation rules. We will immediately communicate through diplomatic channels that this practice is wrong and incompatible with the practice of the International Aviation Organization,” Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters at a press conference in Ankara.
Turkey’s low-cost carriers Pegasus and Onur Air have canceled their flights to Russia until Jan. 13 and Jan. 14, the two companies announced on Tuesday.
However the country’s national carrier Turkish Airlines said it would continue its flights to Russia because the airlines’ crews had previously obtained visas.
“Our aim is to normalize relations, this is our priority. Crises come and go, friendship remains,” the minister said, adding that the government would continue to try to improve relations.
Russia imposed economic sanctions including the suspension of visa-free travel with Turkey at the beginning of 2016.
The decision came in the wake of Turkish forces downing a Russian fighter that violated Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings on Nov. 24, 2015.
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