Low-cost airline Ryanair plans to base up to 30 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at Ukraine’s three main airports and fly over five million passengers a year when fighting eventually ends.
The airline’s statement came as Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary met Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for Restoration Oleksandr Kubrakov in Kyiv on Thursday and visited Boryspil international airport, 30km east of the capital.
The Irish company, which was Ukraine’s second-largest airline before Russia’s invasion, plans to expand from just serving Kharkiv and Kherson to operating 600 weekly flights connecting the three main airports of Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa to over 20 European capitals.
It also plans to open daily domestic flights between the three cities as soon as those airports can handle them and double the number of seats from and within Ukraine to over 10 million within five years.
Ryanair said the 30 new jets it plans to base in Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa will be worth over $3 bln.
Ryanair sealed a multibillion-dollar deal for as many as 300 new Boeing jets in May.
“Ryanair has committed to returning with low fare flights to and from Ukraine within eight weeks of the reopening of Ukraine air space,” O’Leary, who has previously pledged to return quickly to Ukraine once the conflict has ended, said in the statement.
During the visit, Ryanair’s senior management and the airport examined the condition of the airport terminals, baggage claim and passenger check-in and boarding gate areas, control points, and aprons, where they saw the excellent state of the airport infrastructure and its operational readiness to resume flights when safe to do so.
O’Leary said: “Ryanair remains a committed partner in rebuilding and investing in Ukraine aviation.
“Today, we saw that in the most difficult conditions of war, the Boryspil airport team demonstrates its professionalism and is fully ready for the resumption of flights as soon as possible.”
Ryanair plans to open daily domestic flights between Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa as soon as those airports are able to handle them.
Ryanair plans in the first 12 months post-war to offer over 5 million seats to/from and within Ukraine, which will build to over 10 million seats over five years.
“The fastest way to rebuild and restore the Ukrainian economy will be with low-fare air travel. Ryanair intends to invest heavily in Ukraine and lead this aviation recovery by investing up to $3 bln and basing up to 30 new Boeing MAX aircraft at Ukraine’s three main airports in Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa,” said O’Leary.
“Ryanair remains committed to rebuilding and investing in Ukraine.
“We currently employ hundreds of Ukrainian pilots, cabin crew and IT professionals, and we will look to creating thousands of new jobs in aviation for Ukrainian citizens when Ukraine skies reopen,” he added.
Kubrakov said: “Maintaining the operability of the aviation infrastructure and personnel vocational skills remains vital for us in the conditions of war.
“Meanwhile, the resumption of flights will be possible as soon as the security situation allows.
“However, we are already working on solutions and investment plans to enable aircraft to fly up quickly.”