Wizz Air contemplates the re-launch of its Ukrainian subsidiary

Wizz Air Ukraine Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko met with Wizz Air’s chief executive Jozsef Varadi (The official website of the Ukrainian president)

Hungary’s Wizz Air, one of Europe’s largest low-cost carriers (LCC), is considering the re-launch of Wizz Air Ukraine, its Ukrainian subsidiary, and says it will make that decision next year.

“The fact that Wizz Air is willing to make a decision about restarting the operation of its subsidiary and pay taxes in Ukraine is proof of the high level of our cooperation,” Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko wrote in his Facebook account. The statement followed his November 21 meeting with Wizz Air’s chief executive Jozsef Varadi, which focused on matters dedicated to legislative and regulative affairs and the economic environment for the airline’s business development in Ukraine.

Wizz Air Ukraine will obtain its own Ukrainian Air Operator’s Certificate as early as 2019, provided it receives “the necessary support from the national authorities,” and its Ukraine-based fleet could reach as many as 20 Airbus A320/A321 aircraft, requiring an investment of some US$2.5 billion. Increasing its local fleet should enable Wizz to enhance its Kyiv operations and from other Ukrainian cities, as it targets a traffic growth to six million passengers by 2025, the airline revealed to Russian Aviation Insider.

Wizz Air Ukraine ceased operations in 2015 amidst an unsteady economic environment and the devaluation of the local currency, although its parent airline continued to offer flights to Ukraine, gradually adding aircraft and destinations in the country since then. In March next year Wizz Air plans to base its fourth Airbus A320 at Kyiv’s Igor Sikorsky Airport, while it also continues to operate flights from Kharkiv and Lviv.

In the period from January to October 2018, the airline carried in excess of 1.2 million passengers on flights to and from Ukraine, more than doubling the performance of the same period last year.

In the meantime, the Hungarian carrier’s arch-rival, Ryanair, Europe’s biggest LCC, has also entered the Ukrainian market. The Irish airline launched flights to Kyiv’s Boryspil airport on September 3 and is ambitious to continue developing the market. Its plans for 2019 include five new routes to Ukraine. In three to five years’ time Ryanair wants to increase its Ukraine-based fleet to 15 aircraft, investing $1.5 billion into its Ukrainian operations. It projects traffic will reach five million passengers by then.

The Ukrainian air travel market has been stimulated by the introduction of an advantageous visa-free regime with the European Union, following which Ukrainian airlines saw their traffic increase by 18.6 per cent in January to October of this year compared to the same months in 2017, reaching 10.813 million passengers. The international segment grew faster than average, by 18.9 per cent to 9.091 million passengers.

Traffic through Ukrainian airports increased by 24.2 per cent, reaching 17.471 million passengers, of which 15.624 million travelled internationally (up 25.3 per cent year-on-year).

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