KIEV, July 11 – Ukraine will seek to resume negotiations with Europe’s largest low-cost airline Ryanair over starting regular flights to the country, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said Tuesday.
Groysman held an emergency meeting with government officials and business leaders a day after Ryanair had announced it was cancelling the plans to start the flights.
The move came after the country’s biggest airport, the state-owned Boryspil, had unexpectedly refused to sign the contract, de-facto benefiting Ukraine’s largest airline owned by well-connected businessmen.
Groysman said law enforcement agencies will immediately launch investigation of Boryspil airport management personnel to see if competition laws have been breached.
“Secondly, we decided to resume negotiations with Ryanair,” Groysman said, adding that the talks will be joined by the Infrastructure Ministry and by the Ukraine Investment Promotion Office.
Groysman also called on the Infrastructure Ministry, which pushed in favor of low-cost airlines, to draft the government’s strategy for airline transportation, including development of airports and attraction of low-cost airlines.
Volodymyr Omelian, the infrastructure minister, said Tuesday that chances were good for restarting the talks with Ryanair.
"The chances are good enough,” Omelian said. “I am confident that once the problem with Boryspil management is resolved, negotiations can be restored within a month."
Back in March, Ryanair said it was planning to start fights between Kiev and London, Eindhoven, Manchester and Stockholm starting in October. Ryanair was also supposed to start flights between Lviv and a number of European destinations.
But the Irish-based airline announced on Monday it was cancelling the plans after Boryspil airport had refused to sign the agreed contract.
The collapsed deal would hurt economically hundreds of thousands of people that were expected to tap cheap flights to travel to Europe after the recent introduction of visa free travel for Ukrainians.
David O’Brien, Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, said “Ukraine is not yet a sufficiently mature or reliable business location to invest valuable Ryanair aircraft capacity.”
Ryanair was expected to carry more than 500,000 passengers between European destinations and Ukraine, and was expected to create 400 jobs in Ukraine.
Ryanair is expected to grow from 130 million passengers in 2017 to 200 million passengers by 2024 and “retains the hope that Ukraine might participate in this growth at some point in the future,” O’Brien said. (nr/ez)