Ukraine International Airlines details widebody fleet plans

Ukraine International Airlines UIA will take delivery of five Boeing 737NGs before the end of the year (Leonid Faerberg / Transport-Photo)

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) has announced plans to start adding Boeing 777 widebodies to its fleet next year. Four such aircraft, equipped with an on-board entertainment system, will replace the Boeing 767s the carrier currently operates, UIA co-owner Aron Mayberg told local publication

Ukraine’s largest carrier will start phasing out its Boeing 767s in 2019. It has four of the type, each equipped with 261 seats. The 777s can seat more, meaning the airline is obviously aiming to expand its long-haul capacity. Once the new aircraft have entered commercial service, UIA says it will expand its long-haul network, possibly by launching flights to Shanghai and Toronto.

Mayberg confirmed his estimate that in 2020-22, UIA’s fleet should reach 90 aircraft. He expects the airline’s traffic to reach 20 million passengers by then, compared to 6 million in 2016.

UIA currently operates 43 aircraft, 12 of which were delivered straight from the assembly line. All of the airline’s planned deliveries will be eight years old or younger. The average age of the carrier’s fleet currently stands at 12 years. The nearest expansion plans include five Boeing 737-800s, to be delivered before year-end, down from the initial plan for eight of the type. Simultaneously, UIA will phase out two of its 737-500s this fall.

Ukraine International Airlines also operates five Embraer E190 regional jets. It is currently working to build a maintenance hangar at the base airport Boryspil. “We are critically short of maintenance capacities, particularly now that we are getting ready to start operating the 777s,” Mayberg explained. “This should enable us to speed up maintenance operations and improve fleet utilization.”

Mayberg denied plans to embark on a rebranding effort: “We will introduce some changes for the airline’s 25th anniversary. We are currently coordinating these with Boeing, and will announce them once everything has been approved. The livery is likely to undergo very minor changes. Overall rebranding is a costly business. We have more critical tasks at hand.”

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