Effective from this IATA winter season, Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) is to cease operating its non-stop scheduled flights between Kyiv and Almaty, landing a hefty blow to the UIA hub’s strategy launched a decade ago.
The decision to cease the long-haul operation to Almaty is the result of negative profitability caused by the banning of Ukraine’s carriers’ flights over the territory of the Russian Federation. For UIA, the inability to use Russian airspace has resulted in a substantial prolongation of Kyiv-Almaty flight times from five hours and 20 minutes to six hours and 35 minutes, bringing extra costs that the nation’s largest airline seem unable to recover even when possible transit opportunities are considered.
In December 2018, UIA ceased all operations from Kyiv to Nur-Sultan, another key Kazakh destination, because accumulated losses in the 2016-2018 period reached US$7.28 million, the airline claims in a statement.
“This was a forced and logical decision. It is directly related to the problems of implementing the hub model repeatedly raised earlier. Losses of more than US$7 million do not allow us to continue operating this loss-making flight,” notes Evgeny Dykhne, the recently appointed UIA chief executive.
Between 2013 and 2019, UIA operated 2,120 Kyiv-Almaty rotations, during which it carried 528,510 passengers, as well as providing its Kyiv Boryspil International Airport hub with 380,000 transit passengers.
Ukraine International passengers may still access Kazakhstan because of an existing code-share agreement with Air Astana that operates Kyiv-Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) and Kyiv-Almaty flights.
The decision to shut down the Kyiv-Almaty flights schedule is a disruption to the UIA network model, the Ukrainian flag carrier admits. However, the company’s management regards re-entering the profit zone as an irrefutable requirement.
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