In an effort to bolster its lacklustre financial position, Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) has announced plans to take up to five medium-haul aircraft out of operation before its 2020 summer schedule gets under way.
The first aircraft to leave the fleet will be three Boeing 737-800s, which are scheduled to be phased out as soon as their leasing terms expire between February and May of next year. Ukraine’s flag carrier is also considering either wet-leasing and/or prematurely retiring two additional aircraft of the type.
Other austerity measures to optimise costs and turn the airline around to profitability include trimming its route network, UIA’s management reveals. Earlier this year, the company announced it was shutting down scheduled services from Kyiv to Beijing, Riga and Minsk and cutting frequencies on an array of domestic and international routes.
The privately-run carrier currently operates a total of 42 aircraft, five medium-haul Embraer 190s, two Embraer 195s, 24 Boeing 737-800s and four Boeing 737-900s. The long-haul widebody part of the fleet comprises four Boeing 767-300s and three Boeing 777-200ERs.
After several years of fleet expansion, throughout 2019, the number of aircraft in UIA’s fleet remained unchanged, although its total capacity decreased as the airline retired two 186-seat Boeing 737-800s it had been operating since 2009, whilst adding two used 116-seat Embraer 195 jets.
Ukraine International Airlines is poised to take delivery of three new Boeing 737 MAXs, but this fleet modernisation project has been delayed because of the global grounding of the model following two fatal crashes. Investigators have implicated the aircraft’s Manoeuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), new software which was introduced to compensate for nose-up (stalling) tendencies in the re-worked aircraft type. The B737 MAX is expected re-enter service during 2020, say reports.
Ukraine International also plans to add at least two more Embraer 195s to its fleet next year.
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