Italian LCC Ernest Airlines expands its Ukrainian network

Ernest Airlines The routes to Kharkiv from Milan and Rome will be the longest in the low-cost carrier’s network (Kharkiv airport)

Italian low-cost carrier (LCC) Ernest Airlines has added two new routes to its Ukrainian network, launching flights to Kharkiv airport in the north-east of Ukraine from Milan’s Malpensa and Rome’s Fiumicino airports. In line with its strategy to focus on un-served or underserved markets, it has thus become the first airline to provide direct flights from the country’s second-largest city to Rome and Milan.

Ernest’s inaugural flights from Milan and Rome to Kharkov were performed this week and the three times-a-week services are operated by 180-seat Airbus A320s. The new routes are the longest in the young airline’s network.

Ernest Airlines focuses mainly on services that meet an ethnic need, satisfying the travel requirements of Ukrainians with families in Italy. According to its estimates, the share of these passengers will be about 30 per cent.

The airline is also aiming to stimulate tourism traffic from Italy to Ukraine. For this it communicates with Italian travel agencies, and also promotes Ukrainian destinations at home hoping that, eventually, leisure passengers will make up 40 per cent of the passenger numbers. Business travellers will make up the third category with a share of 20 per cent. Finally, the low-cost airline also intends to attract those transfer passengers – representing some 10 per cent of its traffic – who are flying beyond Italy to the United States and to Canada, where it is estimated there are some five million Ukrainians.

In Ukraine, in addition to Kharkov, Ernest Airlines also operates to Kyiv Igor Sikorsky Airport (known as Zhulyany prior to March 2018), and Lviv.

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