Porsches, Bentleys and different luxurious vehicles with Russian licence plates are filling the parking storage at Helsinki airport as Finland turns into an essential transit nation for Russian vacationers flying to Europe.
The EU shut its airspace to Russian planes after Moscow invaded Ukraine, forcing anybody who desires to journey to Europe to drive throughout the border or take a circuitous route utilizing non-western airways.
Since Russia’s Covid-19 restrictions expired in July, there was a growth within the variety of Russian travellers and a rising backlash in Europe towards permitting Russian vacationers to enter whereas the battle continues.
A fast stroll by means of the automotive park at Helsinki airport revealed dozens if not tons of of high-end vehicles with Russian plates, together with a brand new Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan and Porsche 911 Turbo S.
“It boggles me,” a Finnish traveller, Jussi Hirvonen, stated after leaving the storage. “I want they weren’t right here earlier than Ukraine’s scenario is solved.”
The Finnish international minister, Pekka Haavisto, stated Finland had develop into a “transit nation” for Russian vacationers. “Helsinki airport is seeing a number of Russian tourism in the meanwhile,” he added.
Finland stated final week it could restrict the variety of Russian vacationer visas to 10% of present volumes as of 1 September after rising discontent over Russian tourism amid the battle in Ukraine.
Russians proceed to enter Finland with visas issued by different EU international locations within the Schengen borderless journey space for his or her journeys. “They arrive right here on Schengen visas issued by varied completely different international locations after which proceed additional through Helsinki airport,” Haavisto stated.
In response to a survey carried out by the Finnish border guard in August, about two-thirds of Russians crossing Finland’s japanese border accomplish that with a Schengen visa issued by a rustic apart from Finland.
“Hungary, Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece and Spain usually subject visas to Russians, and are typically among the many high issuing international locations every year,” stated Mert Şaşıoğlu, a border guard official.
Schengen guidelines don’t enable Finland to shut the border to particular nationalities, Haavisto says. Such sanctions can solely be determined collectively by the EU.
“As Finland and the Baltic international locations are planning to limit these visas, it could be good if all EU international locations took related selections,” he added.
This sentiment was shared by many Finns on the airport. “There ought to be an EU determination to shut the border,” stated one traveller, Jussi Hirvonen.
The Nordic nation intends to boost the difficulty on the subsequent assembly of EU international affairs ministers within the Czech Republic on 30 August.