KYIV – As Georgians start to enjoy their new visa-free Schengen status, Brussels assures Ukrainians their time will come in June. Airlines are taking these promises to the bank, starting new European routes and expanding frequencies for Ukraine.
“This is the year of low-fare airlines in Ukraine,” said Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan, pointing to two more low-cost airlines now in talks to fly to Ukraine.
In a reversal of expectations, 2017 may be the year when European mass tourism discovers Ukraine. The nation increasingly is recognized as one of the best value travel destinations on the edge of the EU. home to 508 million of the world's most affluent consumers.
Behind airlines, new transport options are appearing: Uber taxi service in Dnipro, and, possibly, ferry service from Odesa to Greece.
New European Cities Linked to Kyiv
The largest number of new options will be at Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport, which accounts for about two-thirds of Ukraine’s air traffic, thanks to its role as the main hub for Ukraine International Airlines, or UIA.
This summer, UIA starts flights to Budapest and daily flights to Milan's Bergamo Airport. Flight frequencies will increase to Vilnius (21x a week), Amsterdam, London, Paris and Stockholm (14), Brussels (10), Athens and Barcelona (7).
“Making out the UIA Summer 2017 schedule, we aspired to respect the preferences of all categories of passengers irrespective of travel purpose, destination, and residence city,” said UIA Corporate Press Secretary Evgeniya Satska. “We do hope that this way everyone will make his/her ultimate travel dreams come true”
In June, Dniproavia, inaugurates flight from Borispyl to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Resuming a route that was discontinued five years ago, Dniproavia will fly times a week to Ljubljana on an Embraer 145.
Kyiv’s rival Zhuliany airport also offers new city destinations. Charter airline DART Ukrainian Airlines starts a new regular flight to Bologna, Italy, and new, seasonal flights to Tenerife and Alicante in Spain. DART also increased flight frequency to the Balkans.
Regional Capitals Get More International Flights
Turkish Airlines inaugurated direct flights from Kharkiv to Istanbul on Thursday. Roundtrips start from $109. Ukrainians and Turks no longer need passports – only national ID cards -- to visit each other’s countries.
Starting June 21, Zaporizhia will have new direct UIA flights across the Black Sea to Batumi, Georgia.
AirBaltic resumed in March its Odesa-Riga flights. They were suspended three years ago, when Russia’s military aggression started against Ukraine. The first flight, carrying 66 passengers, was greeted in Odesa by an Orthodox priest spraying holy water.
In Western Ukraine, Uzhgorod authorities are talking to Wizz Air, the low cost airline based in nearby Hungary. Uzhgorod lost its last scheduled flights last year.
Uber announced last week that it is about to launch its taxi hailing services in Dnipro, its fourth Ukrainian city after Kyiv, Odesa and Lviv. The company says it will offer taxi rides for as little as 14 UAH, or 50 American cents.
On the water, Minister Omelyan and Greek Deputy Infrastructure Minister Marina Chrysoveloni are discussing starting ferry service between Odesa and Greece. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Odesa lost most of its ferry services to Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia. After Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, international cruise ship visits to Odesa dropped sharply.
“The implementation of such a project has a high trade-economic potential for both countries,” Omelyan said. He said Ukrainian laws have to be revised to comply with EU requirements on ports in and navigation safety.
For comments or news tips, please contact UBJ Reporter Lee Reaney at email@example.com.
Slider photo: Back in 2011, when visa free travel to the EU's Schengen zone was just a dream, these young women signed a support petition in a flash mob on Europe Square in central Kyiv. Now, with a host of discount flights planned for Ukraine, there may be a flood of European tourists coming here. (UNIAN/Vladimir Gontar)
Posted April 1, 2017