One-way flights from Russia quickly sold out last week after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered on 21 September the immediate call-up of up to 300,000 reservists. Putin’s announcement was made in a morning televised speech and by noon direct tickets to Tashkent, Baku, Bishkek and Astana were no longer available.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has explained that the mobilisation will be limited to citizens with experience as professional soldiers and insisted that students and those who have only served as conscripts will not be called up. He has pointed out, in this regard, that the first wave of recruitment will focus on soldiers up to 35 years old and non-commissioned officers up to 45.
This however could put the aviation industry at risk of losing its staff. People working for at least 5 airlines and 10 airports have received their call to join the army, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported.
The majority of the commercial pilots in Russia did their training in military flight schools or they have at least completed some military service before switching to commercial flying. Sources close to the aviation industry, airlines and airports, revealed that between 50% and 80% of the employees have some sort of military background, thus can be mobilised, Aviation24 reported.
Another source, close to flag carrier Aeroflot, disclosed that more than half of the employees of the airline and its subsidies, Rossiya and Pobeda, are potential recruits. Lawyers have reportedly prepared requests for pilots and other staff to be relieved of military duty, but are certain where they should send them.
While Aeroflot said it prepared a taskforce to ensure the continuity of the airline, its subsidy, Rossiya Airlines, denied any disturbance and said the roasters will continue to be set up as usual and pilots will continue to be assigned to long haul flights.
The Russian aviation industry received another hit last week, when, according to the latest European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) sanctions, it was announced Russian pilots could no longer receive their simulation training (FSTD) in Türkiye. Since there are no proper simulators in Russia and the FSTD is mandatory twice a year, pilots will soon not be allowed to fly anyway.