LCC Ryanair finally comes to Ukraine

Ryanair Ukraine Ryanair celebrated its first ever Ukraine flights with the start of its Kyiv service to/from Berlin on September 3, two months earlier than originally scheduled (Ryanair)

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier (LLC), is launching an extensive flight programme to and from Ukraine. The inaugural service – from Berlin Schoenefeld to Kyiv Boryspil on September 3 – was 95 per cent sold, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Volodymyr Omelyan reveals in his Facebook account.

Four weekly service will be operated on the Berlin – Kyiv route, and there will be a total of 12 destinations from Kyiv in the airline’s winter schedule starting in late October:  five weekly flights to London Stansted, four to Barcelona and Warsaw Modlin, three to Bratislava, Stockholm Skavsta, Vilnius, Wroclav and Krakow, and two to Bydgoszcz, Gdansk and Poznan.

This totals up to 38 weekly services which Ryanair projects will accommodate up to 635,000 passengers a year. By the end of this year Boryspil expects Ryanair to generate an additional 140,000 passengers for the key Ukrainian airport, its general director Pavlo Ryabikin comments.

The Ireland-based LCC is the eighth airline to have launched services to and from Boryspil since the beginning of this year. Ryanair also plans to add two more routes from Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine, to Germany and Poland, and one to the UK.

“European countries are becoming ever closer, now that one of the largest international low-cost carriers has launched flights to Ukraine. […] This is a reflection of the evident benefits of the visa-free regime within Europe, a development which has been so much anticipated by Ukrainians. Since it was introduced more than 1.290 million of our citizens have visited the European Union,” Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, comments in his Facebook account.

The launch of Ryanair’s Ukrainian services came after several years of negotiations. Initially the airline had targeted Igor Sikorsky International (formerly Zhulyany) as its Ukrainian gateway, which is also the base of its Hungarian arch rival Wizz Air (which also flies to Lviv and Kharkiv). However no agreement was reached after tough negotiator Ryanair specified significant requirements from the airport. This plan also impeded flights to Lviv, the airport which enjoys an open-skies regime.

In March this year, whilst announcing the launch of flights to Ukraine, Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary revealed ambitious expansion plans which included 15 destinations and the addition of three Ukrainian airports to the airline’s network. He did not rule out the possibility of creating a local subsidiary for operating domestic flights within the country. Ryanair’s passenger number target was then declared as 800,000, including 500,000 from Boryspil.

Ukraine infrastructure minister Omelyan notes that, in 2019, the operator’s network may add other airports, including Kherson, which is already in early discussions with the Irish airline.

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