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Ryanair eyes Ukraine tourism after Russia’s war ends

Low-cost airline’s chief announces a £2.3bn investment package

William Mata
Thursday 20 July 2023 16:56 BST
Michael O’Leary promises new routes and thousands of jobs for locals
Michael O’Leary promises new routes and thousands of jobs for locals (AFP/Getty)

Ryanair’s boss has pledged to “charge back into Ukraine” once commercial flying reopens and promised investment worth $3bn (£2.3bn) in the wartorn country.

Michael O’Leary visited Kyiv on Thursday and said that he soon hoped to reconnect the country’s Lviv and Odesa airports with more than 20 European Union capital cities within eight weeks of the reopening of air space with around 600 weekly flights.

“The fastest way to rebuild and restore the Ukrainian economy will be with low-fare air travel,” the chief executive said.

“Ryanair intends to invest heavily in Ukraine and lead this aviation recovery by investing up to $3bn and basing up to 30 Boeing Max aircraft at Ukraine’s three main airports in Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa.

“Having previously also served Kharkiv and Kherson airports prior to the invasion, Ryanair will return to serving those airports too, as soon as the infrastructure has been restored.”

He added that the company will employ hundreds of Ukrainian pilots, cabin crew and IT professionals, and we will look to create thousands of new jobs in aviation for Ukrainian citizens.

It is hard to say when commercial flights will be possible to and from Ukraine with restrictions still in place due to the ongoing war with Russia.

Ryanair held meetings in Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport with representatives from Ukraine’s main airports, Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa.

Mr O’Leary was joined by Boryspil airport chief executive Oleksiy Dubrevskyy and Ukraine’s communities minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. The latter man said the resumption of flights will be possible “as soon as the security situation allows”.

“We are already working on solutions and investment plans to enable aircraft to fly up quickly,” he said.

Ryanair noted the “excellent state” of the airport infrastructure after examining terminals, baggage claims and passenger check-ins.

The company has said that in the first 12 months after the war, more than 5 million seats to and from Ukraine will be on offer with 10 million per year within five years.

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