Thursday 27 April 2017

Ukraine government hails Ryanair's arrival at Kiev

Michael O'Leary
Michael O'Leary
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair will launch its first-ever services in Ukraine this October - making it the 34th country it operates from.

The Ukraine government - still locked in a tense military standoff with Russia-backed separatists - has enthusiastically welcomed the airline's decision, which it hopes will send a signal to the global investment community that the country remains open for business.

Ryanair will initially operate routes from Kiev to London, Manchester, Stockholm and Eindhoven

It will operate a total of 15 flights a week during the winter from Ukraine capital, and expects to carry 250,000 passengers a year.

Chief commercial officer David O'Brien said that the airline is also starting flights to and from Lviv in western Ukraine.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, causing international outrage. Russia-backed forces and Ukraine have since remained engaged in sporadic military action.

"The arrival of Ryanair in Ukraine is without exaggeration a remarkable event for Ukraine," said the country's Minister for Infrastructure, Volodymyr Omelyan. He added that negotiations had lasted "several years".

"I am convinced that Ryanair will be another bridge that connects the infrastructure of Ukraine with Europe and it will be a good signal for the world's major investors," he said.

Ryanair's Ukraine debut extends the airline's march as it expands its fleet and aims to carry 120 million passengers in its current financial year, which ends this month.

Last year, it opened its first base in Israel.

Last month, it added 15 new routes to its services from the country, including Milan, Berlin and Warsaw.

Between last October and October this year, Ryanair is taking delivery of 50 new aircraft.

It will have over 500 aircraft in its fleet by 2024.

The airline had been planning to launch services to Russia for some time.

Ryanair had expected to be in a position to launch flights from Dublin to St Petersburg in autumn 2014, and had also been eyeing a service to Moscow.

It was granted permission in 2013 by Russia's federal air transport agency, Rosaviatsia, to operate the routes from early 2014 but pulled the plans in 2014, with ceo Michael O'Leary claiming that Tourism Ireland hadn't agreed to stump up any funding that might have been used to support the service.

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