Flying in and out of Ukraine is becoming easier and friendlier as new airport terminals open doors on the eve of the Euro 2012 football championship that the nation is co-hosting along with neighboring Poland.
The newest was launched by Ukrainian authorities on May 17, a Western-style passenger terminal at International Airport Kyiv. Formerly known as Zhulyany, it is the capital’s smaller airport but is located just a 20-minute drive from downtown Kyiv – about half the time it takes to get to Boryspil.
On May 28, the larger Boryspil International Airport will open Terminal D. The 117,000 square meter terminal will handle international fights and eventually domestic ones as well.
At Zhulyany, Master Avia – a company that has been linked to influential pro-presidential lawmaker Yuriy Ivaniushchenko – pumped more than $40 million into the three-story 14,000 square-meter terminal. Government funds covered construction of a new 2,310 meter-long runway.
The one-year reconstruction and expansion project of the Soviet-built Zhulyany airport was described by Borys Kolesnikov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister in charge of infrastructure, as the “most effective example of partnership” between private investors and the state.
In the run-up to the Euro 2012 football games, Ukraine has through a mix of loans, state and private funding built new terminals and runways in four of the host cities: Kyiv, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv.
The new Terminal F started operating last year at Boryspil International. When Boryspil’s bigger terminal D is launched on May 28, it will largely take over passenger traffic from the dilapidated Soviet-built terminals A, B and C.
The newly-built International Airport Kyiv terminal at Zhulyany is closer to the center of Kyiv than the main Boryspil International airport. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)
In recent days, Boryspil International also launched a new and more navigation friendly website in English and Ukrainian (www.kbp.aero/en/). Zhulyany’s website is at www.airport.kiev.ua.
Boryspil stands to face tougher competition from Zhulyany airport. Once resembling more of a shack than airport, it now is fully equipped with state-of-the-art security and luggage-tracking systems.
In prior years, passengers flying in and out Zhulyany had scant access to basic services provided in major world airports. Now, they can wait for their international departure or arriving passengers in bars, restaurants and lounges. But domestic flights will still be handled by the old terminal until a new one is built in the coming years.
Oleh Petrovsky, first deputy director of the airport, said the plan is to build a new terminal for domestic flights. And Master Avia will build a number of hangers to store and service aircrafts, a new 10,000 square-meter office center and 60-room hotel.
Business at Zhulyany airport, which for now is handling flights to and from Kyiv by nine airlines, including low-cost carriers WizzAir and UTair, is on the rise. The airport, Yakovets said, serviced nearly half a million passengers last year and expects levels to surge in coming years in line with growing passenger traffic to Ukraine.
Boryspil International, for example, serviced about eight million passengers in 2011, up 20 percent on the previous year.
Kolesnikov said Zhulyany’s Kyiv International Airport will become “the most convenient” airport for domestic flights connecting Kyiv with Kharkiv, Odessa as well as Lviv.
Yuriy Blazhenkov, general director of UTair Ukraine, said: “Zhulyany was a serious, well-grounded airport in Soviet times, handling more than 1 million passengers per year in the 1980s, for example.”
“It was connected with centers of most regions of Ukraine by five to six flights per day. People remember. We want to renew this tradition,” he added.
Kyiv Post staff writer Denis Rafalsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.