Ukraine announces opening of airport during the war: how possible is it?
During his visit to the United States, Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak announced that one of Ukraine's airports may be opened for civilian flights. Find out more about how this can happen in time of war
During his trip to the United States and his speech at the Hudson Institute, the head of the President's Office, Andriy Yermak, announced the possible opening of one of Ukraine's airports for civilian flights, according to a BBC report.
In the context of the speech, Yermak expressed optimism about the upcoming event. He emphasized the need to strengthen the protection of Ukrainian skies, especially in view of the predicted difficult winter for the country and the potential threat from russia.
"Strengthening air defense systems will be the key to our recovery. This is a key aspect for Ukraine's recovery. We are already working on this together with our partners, and this shows that we are at a turning point in the war. The next year will be crucial in this regard," Yermak said.
Opening an airport in Ukraine: is it possible during the war?
Yermak did not specify a specific timeframe for the opening of the airport. However, he emphasized the resumption of civil aviation by the end of the war.
As you know, the issue of resuming civil aviation flights, which have been suspended since February 24, 2022, was actively discussed in Ukraine in the summer of 2023. Ideas to reopen airports in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Uzhhorod were considered, but no specific decisions or actions were taken.
In particular, in July 2023, a delegation of the European airline Ryanair visited Kyiv, not only to reconnoiter the situation in the context of the ongoing war, but also to present a plan to resume aviation activities in Ukraine.
In an interview with Interfax-Ukraine, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary outlined two possible options for resuming flights. The first one envisaged the resumption of air traffic immediately after the end of the war, and the second one was more realistic, with options to resume a small number of flights by the end of the year.
During the talks with Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov and representatives of Boryspil, Lviv and Odesa airports, as well as Ryanair's management, the company presented a plan to resume aviation operations in Ukraine.
According to the plan, Ryanair has committed to provide 5 million passenger seats on its aircraft in Ukraine within the first year if the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) grants permission to resume flights if there are competitive costs at the airports.
Minister Kubrakov reacted rather cautiously, noting that the resumption of flights is possible only if it is safe.
It is worth noting that Ryanair's previous statements regarding the resumption of flights to Ukraine have provoked a cautious reaction from the government. In particular, the position of the Ministry of Infrastructure was that the resumption of flights would be possible only if safety conditions are met, without any specific timeframe.
Michael O'Leary explained that in order to obtain permission to resume flights in Ukraine, it is necessary to have a positive EASA opinion, and, according to him, the Ukrainian side is already negotiating. At the same time, he emphasized that a positive EASA decision is the key to opening up the possibility of flying to Ukraine.
In fact, there have been no concrete signals from EASA on the possibility of resuming flights to Ukraine. Thus, even if Ukraine reopens its airspace on its own, it will not allow air carriers to immediately start flights due to possible violations of European standards.
It should be noted that EASA recommends that European operators avoid flying in and around Ukrainian airspace, as Ukraine is an active conflict zone where civil aviation traffic is prohibited.
According to a Ryanair representative, the Israeli experience serves as an example of the possibility of flying during military operations.
Currently, commercial operations in Ukraine are considered impossible from the point of view of EASA, even if Ukraine opens the air on its own.
How does the Ukrainian military react to the possible resumption of air traffic?
The Air Force spokesman, Yuriy Ihnat, emphasized that in times of war, any part of the country could be targeted by missile and drone attacks.
Ukrainian aviation experts also expressed their doubts about comparing the situation in Ukraine to Israel. They noted that Israel has a special "iron dome" system that can interact in real time with many targets, but these targets are usually less powerful. Ukraine has a different scale and complexity in the security sphere.
One option that experts considered was the possible opening of the airport in Uzhhorod, which borders Slovakia, to civilian aircraft. However, they emphasized the technological limitations of this airport, which could make it difficult for most European airlines to accept aircraft.
In addition, rebuilding it to accommodate large aircraft is difficult, as it requires the demolition of some residential buildings.
In addition, experts once again emphasized the danger in western Ukraine. The likelihood of missile attacks remains, and therefore the resumption of civilian flights is unacceptable.
We remind you! Earlier we wrote that Ukrainian airline SkyUp Airlines has taken an important step in its development by obtaining a license to fly to the United States of America. Find out which aircraft the license is valid for and how it will affect the Ukrainian company in the global aviation space.
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