Ryanair revives Ukraine flight plan

Airline had previously put plan to serve capital Kiev and western city of Lviv on hold


Ryanair has revived plans to extend its network further east than ever before with flights from Ukraine, according to the European country’s premier.

A deal formalising the expansion should be signed later this week, Ukrainian prime minister Volodymyr Hroisman said in a statement on the government’s official website. The airline had previously aimed to serve the capital Kiev and the western city of Lviv, projecting demand amounting to more than 500,000 passengers a year. It put that plan on hold in July, saying Kiev airport had failed to honor terms of an outline growth agreement.

Ryanair is ramping up competition with Budapest-based Wizz Air eastern Europe as western markets become increasingly saturated. While demand is currently limited, the potential for expansion is high, with the company saying Kiev has about three airline passengers a year per head of population compared with 15 in Dublin, where it is based. Wizz, eastern Europe’s largest discount operator, closed a Ukrainian subsidiary in 2015 amid a recession associated with military conflict in the east of the country.

The main airline currently serves six destinations from Lviv and three from Kiev, according to its website.

Under Ryanair’s previous strategy Lviv was set for seven routes and Kiev four. The carrier declined to comment on its current plans. Boeing said Tuesday that new Ukrainian carrier SkyUp Airlines had finalised an order for five 737 Max planes and would begin flights in April. Kiev-based Ukraine International Airlines is the country’s largest carrier, with a fleet of 43 wide-body and single-aisle jetliners, according to its website.