Irish low-cost airline group Ryanair is committing heavily to the Ukrainian aviation sector by promising to base 30 aircraft in the country when the war is over and Ukraine is declared safe to fly to and from by EASA. Ryanair commits to a five-year growth plan for Ukraine.
Top management, including Group CEO Michael O’Leary, made this commitment during a visit to Kyiv and Boryspil International Airport on Thursday.
The airport has been closed for commercial services since February 24 last year, when Russia launched attacks on Ukraine and its ‘special military operation’.
While Kyiv has come under frequent attacks from rockets and drones, Boryspil has remained largely unscathed.
O’Leary and CEO Eddie Wilson were shown around the airport by CEO Olyksiy Dubrevskyy and Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukrainian Minister of Transportation amongst others.
This confirmed that the terminal building, check-in area, baggage and boarding areas, and apron are in good condition. They could become operational relatively quickly once the airport reopens.
First services to start after eight weeks
O’Leary said that Ryanair is committed to returning to Ukraine within eight weeks after hostilities have ended. The carrier intends to operate 600 weekly flights to and from Kyiv, Odesa, and Lviv as soon as the airports are reopened. Other airlines, notably airBaltic, have also said before that they will be the first to operate in Ukraine after the war.
The Ukrainian government and Ryanair said today that under a five-year plan, the airline will grow seat capacity to five million in the first twelve months. After five years, this should have doubled to ten million seats. The airline intends to base thirty aircraft at the three main airports, which equals a $3.0 billion fleet investment. Once it is safe, Kharkiv and Cherson will be added to the network.
In a media statement, O’Leary says: “Ryanair was Ukraine’s second-largest airline before the unlawful Russian invasion in Feb 2022. Once the skies over Ukraine have reopened for commercial aviation, Ryanair will charge back into Ukraine linking the main Ukraine airports with over 20 EU capitals, and we are working closely with the Ukrainian Government to rebuild Ukraine’s aviation, industry, and its economy.”
Dubrevskyy said: “The visit of Ryanair senior management to Boryspil Airport is a powerful signal that the largest airline in Europe sees huge potential in the Ukrainian air transport market. We, meanwhile, are ready to move from strategic planning to specific operational actions when the airspace becomes open and safe for civil aviation. I strongly believe that Boryspil Airport will remain the main air gate for the return of our citizens to Ukraine and will continue to play a leading role in the recovery of the Ukrainian economy.”
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.