MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. Russian flag carrier Aeroflot has been trying to schedule an appointment for its staff to obtain US visas, but to no avail so far, the company’s spokesman Maxim Fetisov told 60 Minutes program on Rossiya 1 TV channel on Friday.
"It is very difficult to obtain visas as our pilots get visas on the same basis as everyone else. Our visa center is trying to make an appointment for our pilots to obtain visas. In fact, it is impossible to arrange this," Fetisov said.
Earlier on Friday, Aeroflot said it reported to the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Transport that the US had stopped issuing visas for its crews. However, the company stated that the crews had US visas to perform flights to the US for several months.
Aeroflot is the only airline that performs direct flights between Russia and the United States. US airline giant Delta Airlines halted flights in early September.
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Russia and the US could be left without direct flights due to the difficulties the crews of the Russian Aeroflot flagship carrier have with getting US visas. The ministry recalled that the obligation to issue visas to aircrews had been enshrined in the 1994 Russian-US Air Transport Agreement. Aeroflot later confirmed its crews were facing difficulties with getting US visas.
The Kremlin believes that Washington has deliberately created difficulties with issuing visas to Russian pilots, and there are no objective reasons for such a situation, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. US diplomatic staff cuts have not affected the Consular Section in any way, he noted.
The news that Aeroflot’s crews may face problems with extending or obtaining US visas broke in early April. The US Embassy in Moscow refuted reports that it refused to issue US visas to Aeroflot’s staff. It linked possible problems with getting US visas with a high demand and diplomatic staff cuts.