Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) is making plans to restore its route network by next summer. The airline plans to restart flights to 43 destinations, including many long-haul routes that are currently on hold. The resumptions will begin in late March as UIA hopes to re-establish flights from its hub in Kyiv.
While 2020 has seen UIA forced to ax much of its international operations, the airline has been slowly building back its network. In the current winter season, the carrier is flying to 23 new destinations, including cities in the Middle East. However, summer 2021 will see UIA return to all its former international routes.
According to a recent press release, Ukraine International is making plans to restart routes from 28th March, 2021. The carrier will likely continue adding new cities over the next few months until its returns to 100% of routes where flights are allowed. While most of the airline’s routes are in Europe, some key long-haul flights are coming back too.
Ukraine International will long-haul restart flights to New York (JFK) and Toronto next summer. These longer routes see UIA use its fleet of three widebody aircraft (two 767-300s and one 777-200). Flights to Dubai, Istanbul, and New Delhi have only resumed in the winter season.
On the European side, there is a lot more action for route resumptions. With nearly 40 routes returning in the next few months, UIA is returning to its hub-and-spoke routes. The exact list can be found on UIA’s website, but some routes include: Amsterdam, London Gatwick, Paris, Helsinki, Geneva, Tbilisi, Barcelona, Prague, and Ankara.
Domestic flights to Kherson, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Zaporizhia will also resume at this time, with some cities seeing international routes too.
Returning to normalcy
There are many reasons why UIA feels next summer will be primetime to re-establish its network. The recent results and approval of high-efficacy vaccines, like Pfizer and Moderna’s, have boosted hopes that travel demand will return soon. While production and transportation are huge hurdles for the vaccine, countries have set ambitious targets to vaccinate their populations.
Ukraine International has likely also seen stronger passenger demand in the last few months, pushing it to resume more flights over the summer. It should be remembered that any resumptions will depend on demand and infection rates across countries at the time.
2020 has undoubtedly been a tough year for UIA, with projections seeing passenger levels fall by almost 50%. In addition, the airline axed 35% of its staff in May, around 900 employees, due to the pandemic and low demand, according to Reuters. Even before the current crisis, UIA struggled in the aftermath of the crash of its flight from Tehran in January.
However, 2021 gives the airline a chance to recover and return to the skies. While the first few months could be bumpy, the second half of the year could see a steady return to high passenger levels.