The new deal signed earlier in October will likely boost tourism in Ukraine, but while some are positive, others say that it discriminates against Ukrainian companies.
Ukraine and the EU signed the so-called Open Skies agreement earlier this month, making air traffic earlier between the two parties. The deal has been on the way for a long time, and it will cut the costs and administrative work for air travel between Ukraine and the EU as it removes the administrative barriers and unifies the airspace between the two parties.
The deal is also expected to influence tourism. As the agreement cut costs, flights might become cheaper, and that more airlines will enter the Ukrainian market. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also recently said that he expects flight safety to increase and that the deal will bring new business opportunities to the country.
Recently, Ryanair also decided to expand its presence in Ukraine with several more routes, coming as the final deal seemed underway. Soon after, Wizz Air also expanded with 26 new routes into Ukraine recently, which is good news for many travelers.
More is on the way
Yulia Tolkachova is a sales manager at tour agency Kyiv Insiders, and she told Emerging Europe that much more might be on the way in the future. Among other things, she believes that routes to less known areas of Ukraine will open soon.
“There will be more routes from Europe to Ukraine and vice versa, at significantly lower prices. This will give more people the opportunity to visit our country affordably. I also expect tourists to be able to travel more conveniently within Ukraine if foreign low-cost airlines also choose to create domestic routes,” Tolkachova said.
The Open Skies agreement has been underway since 2013. It was expected to be signed back then but ran into trouble due to the conflict between the UK and Spain over the status of Gibraltar. However, that obstacle was removed as the UK left the EU recently. In addition, the deal makes it possible for foreign airlines to fly to and from Ukrainian airports without any restrictions, which is an improvement from earlier, where airlines would need approval.
Denis Moskalik is a coordinator of the International Policy Department of the Doctrina Political Studios Center, and he also expects the agreement to make a difference.
“The new agreement means equalisation of the rights of the EU and Ukraine airlines. Thanks to this, new air routes will be opened between Ukrainian and European cities. This will make it easier for new low-cost airlines to enter the Ukrainian market and improve conditions for tourism,” the expert said and referred to how the agreement also means that Ukrainian travelers will be protected by the standards as in the EU.
“This also means a large-scale expansion of European carriers into the Ukrainian market and the expansion of flight opportunities. For passengers, this means a wider choice of available airlines, and for airlines, more competition and new opportunities to open routes,” said Moskalik, according to Morning Express.
Not everyone is happy
The Ukrainian aviation industry has been multiplying in the last few years and until the pandemic due to increased tourism and the need for Ukrainian workers in the EU. For example, the largest airport in Ukraine, Boryspil Airport, has seen an increase in passengers from 8.65 million in 2016 to 15.26 million in 2019, according to Emerging Europe.
While many are happy about the Open Skies Agreement, not everyone in Ukraine looks at it the same way. The deal means more competition, and the Ukrainian airline UIA is not happy.
“Ukrainian airlines are already operating under discriminatory conditions. The additional opportunity for foreign companies to choose points of departure from Ukraine without restriction will add even more injustice to Ukrainian companies, who for some reason have not received such privileges for flights between European cities,” said Yevhenii Dykhne, president of Ukrainian International Airlines, according to Emerging Europe.