Ukraine has initiated official talks with air transportation regulators from the United States and the European Union to discuss the revival of passenger air travel in Ukraine.

Alexander Kubrakov, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction and Minister for Community, Territory, and Infrastructure Development, disclosed the negotiations’ outset in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.

Kubrakov's spokeswoman, Yulia Vernyhor, confirmed the statement with Kyiv Post without specifying the timeframes for flights’ potential resumption.

Kubrakov said that it will be necessary to get approval from both European and American regulators for international flights to resume.

“It is impossible to make international flights without the approval of two regulators – European and American – this is how it works,” he said.

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The minister said that Kyiv has begun sharing its vision of how the aviation market would operate under martial law, along with risk assessments, approaches, and operations with the regulators. It’s also consulted with the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority, as the airports in that country are constantly under threat of airstrikes.

“There are various scenarios at the planning level, and it is crucial for us to receive the first official feedback from regulatory authorities,” the Minister said. “In fact, several European airlines are very interested and willing and say they will be among the first to do so. I do not wish to name them at this point.”

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Regarding Ukrainian airlines, Kubrakov mentioned ongoing negotiations with three carriers keen on resuming operations, as their base airports are in Ukraine.

How likely is the revival of passenger air travel in Ukraine?

Kyiv Post sought insight from aviation expert and aviation sector manager Bohdan Dolince regarding the likelihood of air travel resuming in Ukraine.

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He indicated that there are hurdles ahead for passenger flights to renew.

“Ukraine itself closed its airspace in 2022, following international law. Both EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) issued directives to airlines under their jurisdiction, resulting in a ban on flights to Ukraine,” Dolince said. “Even if Ukraine were to lift its ban, without corresponding actions from EASA and FAA, American and European carriers wouldn't be able to resume flights.”

However, the start of talks shows there’s a possibility. Flights would resume if it were deemed safe enough to fly, prompting Ukraine, FAA, and EASA to lift the flight ban or introduce special protocols, Dolince said.

“This is crucial as it opens up the possibility for both Ukrainian and international carriers to resume flights to Ukraine,” Dolince said – highlighting Ukrainian aviation authorities’ efforts to diversify risks and avoid sole responsibility in the face of potential threats.

Once information were presented to US and EU regulators, an assessment period would be necessary to determine if resources and opportunities are sufficient for resuming flights at certain volumes and within defined frameworks.

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“They may propose further measures to restore operations, potentially listing additional requirements for implementation at specific airports,” Dolince said.

Meanwhile, outside of safety, infrastructure readiness and personnel availability would be the primary concerns for airports that would consider resuming operations, Dolince said.

While some airports have reported readiness, others may face challenges due to staff mobilization, he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said in December 2023 that Kyiv will soon be able to reopen its main international airport because Ukraine has become progressively stronger over the last year and can now provide the necessary security for the site.

Speaking at Boryspil International Airport during a tenth meeting regarding the implementation of Ukraine’s Peace Formula, Yermak told a gathering of international diplomats: “This return to the elements of peace is possible because Ukraine has grown stronger. We are now capable of providing security for this site. Thanks to our defense forces and our friends, your countries.”

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“I am certain that the symbolic boarding cards that you were given when you came in today will soon turn into real ones,” he said.

Yermak's deputy, Andriy Sybiha, said that Boryspil was the first major site in Ukraine to be closed due to Russia’s full-scale invasion and would be the first to reopen when conditions allowed.

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Comments (2)

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Edmilson Almendra
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No one more than me would like to see Ukraine International Airlines getting airborne again. I miss the Airliner so much! But the risk is unacceptable. The ruzzian savages would be delighted to shoot down the plane and blame the Ukrainian Air Defense. A better idea would be to have UIA flying within Europe earning some money, but every country would dislike the competition. It's not time yet. Keep the aircraft safe, the crew current in simulators and concentrate in saving your very country. We will see later. As of now, there are no conditions whatsoever.
Meanwhile, bombing the main ruzzian western airports and disrupt their traffic would be very convenient.

John
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@Edmilson Almendra, I was living in the USA a few hours from the World Trade Center when they were hit. Ironically I almost had a consulting gig in one of them a few months earlier, but refused so as to be closer to my home base. Lots of international airport choices around that region compared with my country.

Once US airlines did start consumer flights again they were incredible dirt cheap. I flew to 3 EU countries for less than it would typically cost for one flight.

Admittedly I have more of a "World According to Garp" ('what are the odds of another plane crashing into that house again'), or perhaps Neil Young philosophy (It's better to burn out than to fade away) about such risks. Do what you can while you can. When its time to go, try to be graceful about it.

If UIA starts flying to Canada....and the price is reasonable.....I'd sure want to take advantage of this. I'm not getting any younger, and would surely like to meet some of the amazingly courageous people I keep writing about. Maybe I could even be useful there in some way during the rebuild phase. Cheers.

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GregC
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this would be good for Ukraine, may be very high risk. Would Russia risk destroying another civilian aircraft? high risk for Putin as well. ballsy of Ukraine to be considering this action.

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