By Vanni Gibertini
Ukraine Will Launch A State-Owned Carrier In 2022
The crisis has gripped the industry of commercial aviation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. As a result, governments in various countries triggered numerous interventions in order to prevent many airlines from becoming insolvent and maintain worldwide connectivity in place. The severity of the crisis also prompted some countries to consider the idea of a state-owned national carrier as better suited to guarantee air links during emergencies, and some of them have decided to put the idea into practice.
During the “Big Construction: Aviation and Tourism” forum that took place last week at Kyiv, Ukraine’s Boryspil Airport, the Ukrainian Government announced the intention to create a new state-owned national carrier that will be called Ukrainian National Airlines. The announcement was accompanied by the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ukrainian Government and Airbus for the purchase of up to 22 aircraft, including six Airbus A220s, 12 Airbus A320 family aircraft and four widebody Airbus A330/Airbus A350 aircraft, ch-aviation reports.
Oleksandr Kubrakov — the country’s Minister for Infrastructure — has confirmed that a feasibility study and a business plan for the launch of the new carrier have already been completed. The Government is reported by Ukriform.net to have already approved 500 million Ukrainian Hryvnia ($18.5 million) and a further 2.5 billion Ukrainian Hryvnia will be needed in 2022 when the carrier is expected to launch.
“In addition to the promises, we are moving to practical implementation – this is our national air carrier, its creation will be officially launched today. We are ready to invest in the air fleet, involve world leaders in joint projects,” the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal also added that Ukraine lies at a “unique geographical location, at the crossroad between continents”, Flightglobal reports. Ukraine and the European Union (E.U.) signed an open skies agreement just six weeks ago, allowing any Ukrainian or European carrier to fly on any route between the two territories, and there are ongoing negotiations to allow visa-free travel between the E.U. and Ukraine. This should allow Ukraine to become a “major regional aviation hub” insisted Shmyhal.
Before the signature of the open skies agreement, in 2005 Ukraine and the E.U. had signed a “horizontal” agreement that removed nationality restriction on designations for the bilateral air services agreement between Ukraine and E.U. Members. This allowed any E.U. carriers to be designated to operate flights between Ukraine and any State within the E.U. In addition, this provision allowed low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Wizzair to connect Ukraine with the rest of Europe under their own European Air Operator’s Certificate.
Ukraine has not had a national state-owned carrier since 2004 when Air Ukraine collapsed and has since relied on private airlines. The largest carrier in the country is Ukraine International Airlines — a carrier owned by Cyprus-based Ontobet Promotion Ltd. The airline operates 26 Boeing and Embraer aircraft based at Kyiv Boryspil Airport.