Ryanair said on Thursday that it could restart flights to and from Ukraine within just eight weeks of airspace over the country being reopened to commercial air traffic, with hundreds of flights per week connecting Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa with up to 20 European capitals.
Ukrainian airspace has been closed since February 2022 following Russia’s invasion of the country, but during a surprise visit to the country by Ryanair’s senior management team, CEO Michael O’Leary said he was impressed with how Ukraine has maintained its aviation infrastructure.
Once the skies over Ukraine have been reopened to commercial flights, O’Leary said Ryanair “will charge back into Ukraine linking the main Ukraine airports with over 20 EU capitals” as part of a massive $3 billion investment from the Irish low-cost airline.
“The fastest way to rebuild and restore the Ukrainian economy will be with low-fare air travel,” O’Leary commented. “Ryanair intends to invest heavily in Ukraine and lead this aviation recovery by investing up to $3 billion and basing up to 30 new Boeing MAX aircraft at Ukraine’s three main airports in Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa”.
Flights to Kharkiv and Kherson won’t, however, be able to resume until heavily damaged infrastructure has been restored, although Ryanair has committed to serving these airports as soon as possible.
O’Leary made his comments after Ryanair’s senior management team held a series of meetings with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and toured Boryspil International Airport to inspect the state of the airport, including baggage claim and passenger check-in and boarding gate areas.
“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,” O’Leary said shortly after the tour.
Within the first 12 months of resuming flights to Ukraine, Ryanair has ambitious plans to offer up to five million seats to and from the country and capacity would grow to up to 10 million seats within just five years.
Along with international flights, Ryanair also wants to resume domestic flights between Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa.
Ukraine shuttered its airspace to commercial air traffic on February 24, 2022, and at the time, Ryanair initially said it planned to suspend flights for just 14 days. Today, however, despite O’Leary’s commitment to the country, there remains no clear timeline for when commercial flights might be allowed to resume.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.