Russia launches low-cost flights to former Ukraine peninsula of Crimea

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's low-cost airline on Tuesday made its inaugural flight to Crimea as the authorities seek to boost travel to the former Ukrainian peninsula.

Dobrolet (Nice Flight), the budget airline of Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot, will make four flights daily from Moscow to the main Crimean city of Simferopol.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended a ceremony at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport to mark the airline's maiden flight to Simferopol.

One-way tickets in July were available for around 3,400 rubles (S$122.50) on the company's website. "Our budget carrier Dobrolet is a project of strategic importance not only for Aeroflot group, but for the whole country," Aeroflot chief executive Vitaliy Saveliev said in a statement.

In August, the airline will also launch flights to Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg and the Volga city of Samara.

In March, Russia annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea claiming it had to protect Russian speakers following a popular uprising in Kiev.

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