Foto af Jason Wong hos Unsplash

Ryanair believes that Ukraine has 12 suitable airports for Ryanair travel. 

The pandemic isn’t over yet, but travel is once again a possibility after mass vaccinations in Europe, and airlines are now seeing a chance to expand their market. One of them is the low-cost carrier Ryanair, currently operating in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Lviv, and Kherson. 

Ryanair СEO, Michael O’Leary, recently said that Ryanair could operate flights from 12 airports in Ukraine and that he sees enormous potential in the country, writes Reuters

“The one market I would point to is Ukraine… I would think we will be a major investor in Ukraine when they join up to European Open Skies,” said O’Leary at an investor call following the company’s annual general meeting in Dublin on Sept 16.

O’Leary also said that the primary market for the potential new Ryanair flights isn’t just tourists but also migrant workers going to the EU. 

“I think that will be certainly a model that we will be aggressively moving into,” O’Leary said.

European Open Skies is important

O’Leary pointed out that Ukraine joining the European Open Skies-agreement is a cornerstone because it would allow airplanes to fly between Ukraine and the EU without any limitations. As it is today, airlines need approval for each flight, which takes time. 

Ukrainenu recently wrote that the EU had greenlighted the European Open Skies agreement with Ukraine, but it still needs to be signed. 

EU greenlight signing of ‘Open skies’ agreement with Ukraine

“The agreement will allow our citizens to get cheaper tickets & expand the geography of travel. Its signing will be another step towards entering the single European space,” wrote the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Twitter, according to UBN. 

It is expected that the ‘open skies’ deal with Ukraine will be signed in late autumn 2021, whereafter it will need to be ratified by each EU member state. The negotiations with Ukraine were already completed in 2013, but due to a conflict between the UK and Spain over the airport’s status in Gibraltar, the signing of the agreement was blocked.

The history of Ryanair in Ukraine

Ryanair tried to enter the Ukrainian market back in 2013 but didn’t complete its first flight until 2018 due to several obstacles. Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA), partly owned by the Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, was said to be blocking it. 

“Why is it so hard for Ryanair to come to Ukraine? My response – Ukrainian oligarchs are inviable on the competitive market and are scared of any hint of free competition,” former Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said back in 2017, according to Kyiv Post

Ryanair entered the Ukrainian market in 2018 and has since expanded its number of flights. In addition, several other low-cost airlines are today operating in Ukraine, such as Wizz Air.