After more than three months of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) restarted international flights to Italy and Bulgaria on Wednesday.
THY operated two flights this morning: one from Milano to Istanbul and another from Rome to Istanbul. The flights were suspended on Feb 29.
As many as 105 passengers, including a cat, flew from Rome, while the flight from Milano to Istanbul carried 138 passengers.
Turkish citizens who have a residence permit in Italy and Italian citizens are able to take the flights.
Under the current rules, Turkish citizens cannot enter the EU unless they are close relatives of an EU citizen, long-term residents of the EU or work in the health care sector.
Meanwhile, the flag carrier also restarted flights to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
THY Sofia representative said in a statement that five flights will be operating in a week, with three morning and two evening flights, which the national airline expects to increase soon.
Precautions related to the virus outbreak such as maintaining social distance during check-in and boarding, measuring fever, face masks at all times, distribution of hygiene kits and air sterilization with HEPA filters, are being taken.
Passengers of the first flight to Sofia were welcomed by Erman Topçu, consular at the Embassy of Turkey in Sofia.
Scheduled flights resume in Northern Cyprus
Scheduled flights to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also resumed on Wednesday.
A Turkish Airlines flight carrying 180 passengers landed at the Ercan Airport in Lefkosa at 2:20 a.m. local time Wednesday (11:20 p.m. GMT Tuesday), according to the Turkish News Agency-Cyprus.
Turkey's low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines also made its first flight to Ercan Airport from Sabiha Gokcen Airport early on Wednesday, carrying 211 passengers.
Those who travel from COVID-19 risky countries will come to the country on the condition that they will stay in quarantine for 14 days.
Passengers from Turkey will not be put under quarantine, but they will take Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, COVID-19 diagnostic test kits, before and after arrival at the TRNC.
General Manager of T&T Ercan Airport Serhat Özcelik said they have worked to offer a healthy and safe travel experience during the suspension of scheduled flights.
Özcelik said the airport took all preventive measures, including social distancing in visuals to landmarks, check-in areas, as well as disinfected mats and passports.
Meanwhile, Ledra Palace – a crossing point between the TRNC and Greek Cypriot administration – began to operate between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. The TRNC now has six open border gates.
The TRNC confirmed its first infection on March 10, while a total of four people, including two German citizens, died from the disease.