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Ryanair announces plans for post-war return to Ukraine, $3 billion investment

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 20, 2023 8:37 PM 2 min read
Michael O'Leary, Ryanair CEO, and Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy PM for Restoration of Ukraine and Minister for the Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine, on July 20. (Photo: Boryspil Airport)
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Low cost airline Ryanair announced on July 20 its plans to return to the Ukrainian market within eight weeks of Ukrainian air space reopening. It plans to open 75 routes from Europe to Ukraine and base up to 30 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft worth over $3 billion at Ukraine's main airports.

The announcement came as three members of the company's leadership visited Boryspil International Aiport outside Kyiv to meet with representatives of Kyiv, Lviv, and Odesa airports. Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov was also in attendance.

Like all other Ukrainian airports, Boryspil has been closed down since the beginning of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair CEO, said in Kyiv that "once the skies over Ukraine have reopened for commercial aviation, Ryanair will charge back into Ukraine linking the main Ukraine airports with over 20 EU capitals."

"Ukraine is a country of 40 million people, many of whom have been dispersed across Europe over the past year. We look forward to being able to reunite these families," he added.

According to a statement made by Boryspil airport, discussions had previously been held with Ryanair during the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London in June. Boryspil notes that Ryanair is the first international airline whose executives have visited Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Ryanair was the second-largest airline operating in Ukraine prior to the beginning of the full-scale invasion, according to O'Leary. The biggest one in Ukraine was the privately-owned Ukraine International Airlines.

Apart from Kyiv, the airline also flew to Lviv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Kherson. Two weeks before the invasion, Ryanair stopped flying to Kharkiv and Kherson. O'Leary stated that "Ryanair will return to serving those airports too, as soon as the infrastructure has been restored."

According to Ukrainska Pravda, O'Leary said in April that Ryanair is actively looking for ways to return to the Ukrainian market. It employs around 60 pilots and 80 crew members from Ukraine, most of whom work from the company's bases in Poland.  

Ukrainian airspace has been closed to civilian aircraft since the full-scale invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022. Ukraine's state-run air traffic enterprise, Ukraerorukh, has stated that it will reopen after the war ends.

Ukraerorukh: Ukrainian airspace will reopen following wartime victory
Ukraine’s state-run air traffic enterprise, Ukraerorukh, disputed Eurocontrol’s prediction that Ukrainian airspace would remain closed until 2029, saying that it will reopen after the war ends.

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