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Ukraine Still Pining for Ryanair

Kyiv would like the low-cost Irish airline to change its mind about operating in the country, amid suspicions that corruption hindered the deal. 

13 July 2017

Ukraine is willing to resume negotiations with Ryanair, after the low-cost carrier announced that it would scrap its plans to extend into the country. “We decided to resume the negotiation process with Ryanair,” said Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.

 

A spokesperson of the airline said that a new deal is on the table only if “our agreements are honored." This can be seen as a reference to allegations that Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) has been lobbying to stop the negotiations between Ryanair and the state-run airport.

 

Ryanair plane. Image via Andy Mitchell/Wikimedia Commons.

 

As Reuters reports, “The collapse of the deal has drawn attention to the power of vested interests in Ukraine.”

 

"On behalf of Ukrainian visitors and consumers, we regret that Kyiv airport has demonstrated that Ukraine is not yet a sufficiently mature or reliable business location to invest valuable Ryanair aircraft capacity … We regret also that Lviv airport has fallen victim to Kyiv airport's decision," Ryanair Chief Commercial Officer David O'Brien said, Interfax-Ukraine writes

 

Ukraine Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omerlyan also pointed the finger at Ukraine International Airlines. “UIA cannot order the country what to do and repay for low-quality services,” the minister wrote on his Facebook page, according to Interfax-Ukraine.

 

Groysman said an anti-corruption investigation was underway to scrutinize whether competition laws were followed during the negotiation between the two parties, while UIA has denied that such lobbying took place, Reuters writes.

 

Co-owned by influential oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, UIA operates 50 percent of the passenger flights in Ukraine and most flights from the Boryspil International Airport near Kyiv, writes the Kyiv Post.

 

Contract negotiation has not been running smoothly between Ryanair and the Boryspil airport, the biggest in the country, which sent a standard contract to the discount airline. According to an expert quoted by the Post, the contract, however, did not satisfy the company’s main request for an 80 percent cut in tariffs for flights between Kyiv and London. Ryanair announced on 10 July that it was not signing the contract with the airport and immediately halted its ticket sales.

 

A successful deal would have turned Ryanair into stiff competition for UIA, whose tickets, for instance on the route from Kyiv to Stockholm, start at 300 euros ($341), around 10 times more than a Ryanair ticket for the same route.

 

 

  • Many Ukrainians have been looking forward to cheaper airfare rates since the introduction of visa-free travel to the European Union. Ryanair’s cancelled plans now, at least temporarily, crosses out one option for more affordable tickets.

 

  • The airline had announced that it planned to carry more than 500,000 passengers to and from Ukraine every year, and to create more than 350 jobs.

 

  • The deal was also supposed to introduce new routes from Kyiv to Stockholm, Manchester, Einthoven, and London, and from Lviv in western Ukraine to Krakow, Wroclaw, Berlin, Eindhoven, Budapest, London, and the airport of Memmingen near Munich, starting on 30 October. 

Compiled by Crystal Tai

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