Ukraine hopes to restart commercial flights from Kyiv as soon as possible  - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

Having ceased all commercial flights from its airports when Russia invaded the country in February 2022, Ukraine’s plans for the restart of commercial passenger operations from its main airport in the capital city Kyiv, are reported to be gathering pace and getting closer to reality. Inspired by Israel’s lead in continuing passenger flights despite being involved in a conflict, Ukraine has begun talks with European Union and US authorities over the restart of commercial flights from Kyiv Boryspil International Airport (KBP).

According to reports published in the Kyiv Post newspaper, the vital negotiations have begun, setting Ukraine on a path to seeing both its own airlines and those from other countries return to the skies over the capital city. These reports cite Alexander Kubrakov, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction and Minister for Community, Territory, and Infrastructure Development, who is reported to have made the return of commercial air services a key objective for the country in 2024.

In addition to consulting with the EU and the US on any proposed restart, it is understood that Ukraine has consulted with the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority. Those talks have been commenced to assist the Ukrainians in getting a better understanding of best practices for the safe airport operation in Kyiv while it remains under the threat of hostile rocket attacks.

For any commercial airlines to restart passenger flights from Kyiv (or any other airport in the country), the Ukrainian government would also have to provide guidance on how the airport would run while under military control. Such guidance would have to provide comprehensive details regarding a full risk assessment, approved safe aircraft arrival and departure paths, and timelines for the regulatory approvals required.

Above all else, any such plan would require the approval of aircraft and airline insurers. While discussions are reported to have opened with insurers in London on the issue, no overall timeline has been confirmed for when commercial flights might begin from Kyiv.

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kbp.spotter / Shutterstock

Given that safety will be the primary factor as to whether any services will begin any time soon, the Ukrainian authorities will also have to persuade both its home-grown airlines and foreign carriers that operating to and from Kyiy remains safe. It is thought by analysts that foreign airlines will require a great deal of confidence building before they consider sending their passenger aircraft back into Ukrainian airspace, which has remained closed since the start of the conflict – even to overflying aircraft.

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Despite this, the Ukrainians remain upbeat on this point.

“Several European airlines are very interested and willing and say they will be among the first to do so,” said Alexander Kubrakov. “I do not wish to name them at this point.”

Overall threat reducing

Going in favor of the potential restart of commercial passenger flights to Kyiv, the general security threat of missile strikes in Kyiv has been reducing in recent weeks. Indeed, even Ukraine’s President Zelensky’s Chief of Staff has gone on record stating that the country has become progressively stronger in the past 12 months.

Notwithstanding this, it will be crucial for the US and EU authorities to be on board any proposals before any passenger-carrying flight departs from Kyiv Airport. With a crucial general election approaching in the US later in 2024, any changes in the country’s foreign policy concerning supporting Ukraine could also hamper such attempts.

SkyUp Boeing 737-800 UR-SQB
Real_life_photo / Shutterstock

In February 2022, Ukraine’s national carrier Ukraine International Airlines ceased all operations and many of its aircraft were flown out of the country in the days leading up to Russia’s invasion for safety. However, charter airline SkyUp Airlines has continued flights with its fleet of seven Boeing 737s, albeit from other countries and under wet lease agreements with other carriers.

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