Ukrainian airlines do not so far operate flights to the destinations that used to be Aerosvit’s preserve (New York, Toronto, Delhi, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, and Bangkok). But they have long been preparing for this by receiving appointments, acquiring the necessary aircraft, training pilots and flight attendants, establishing technical maintenance bases, etc.
Roza Vitriv is planning the first flight to Bangkok (Thailand) on October 23 and to Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) on October 25. The next year’s plans include regular flights to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Goa (India), and chartered flights to Japan. In August the carrier received a long-haul Airbus 330 (69 seats in the premium class and 261 in the economy class) from a leasing company, which can perform 12,000-km-long flights. The fleets will acquire one more plane like this next year.
The International Airlines of Ukraine (MAU) company has also announced earlier the intention to fly to Bangkok. The carrier is interested, in addition to Thailand, in such eastern destinations as the Dominican Republic, China, and India. MAU President Yurii Miroshnikov has said that the company intends to begin to carry out a program of long-haul flights during the 2013/2014 winter navigation. But he did not say exactly where the flights would be taken – he only noted that it would be the eastern direction. After Ukraine returns to the FAA’s first category, MAU will begin to plan flights to North America.
According to Miroshnikov, long-haul flights are most likely to be operated by four Boeing 767 aircraft. When Aerosvit was still going bankrupt, experts predicted that MAU would take hold of that company’s Boeing 767 liners. There were six of them on the whole. By its certificate, the Boeing 767-300ER can carry 218 to 295 passengers at a distance of up to 11,300 km. One of them was “intercepted” by Kharkiv Airlines. The company announced they would operate flights to Western Europe, Turkey, and Dubai. It is also planned to fly to Goa and Bangkok.
UTair Ukraine (a subsidiary of the Russian UTair) also plans to begin to operate chartered flights to Bangkok and Delhi this year. Karen Antonov, cochairman of the company’s supervisory board, does not rule out using Boeing 767 liners in these directions. According to the aviation-related resource TourDom, the assumption that Anex Tour, which closely cooperates with UTair, is going to fly to Bangkok has proved to be wrong: the tour operator has announced that it never planned this and it is the carrier that raises this question.
Incidentally, TourDom says that travel companies question the necessity of a so large number of flights to Bangkok (Roza Vitriv alone plans three flights a week) – if things go on like this, planes will be flying half-empty.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian passengers can also fly to Bangkok and other cities of the Asian-Pacific region with the help of foreign airlines. Kommersant-Ukraina reports that Kazakhstan’s Air Astana, which has begun flights from Kyiv to Astana and Alma-Ata, offering lower prices then, say, MAU, hopes to fill the transit niche in this direction.
“While Ukrainian airlines usually took passengers from Kazakhstan and carried them on to Europe and the US, Air Astana can take then for a further flight to Kazakhstan and for long-haul flights to China, Korea, and South-East Asia,” Oleksii Murovtsev, general manager of Amadeus (air ticket booking system operator), told the newspaper.
East-bound long-haul flights are also performed by the Arab low-cost carriers Fly Dubai and Air Arabia. They carry passengers not only to Dubai and the neighboring Sharjah, but also further on to India, etc.
They are facing competition on the part of the Ukrainian low-cost carrier Wizz Air Ukraine (affiliated to Hungary’s Wizz Air) which intends to take up a long route: it will begin on October 28 to operate flights from Airport Kyiv (Zhuliany) to a new airport in the United Arab Emirates. The airport is situated at an almost the same distance from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It will be opened in October – so far, only one runway has been built. The plan provides for five runways and an annual capacity of up to 160 million passengers.
“Up to now we have been normally operating flights that last not more than three hours, while the Kyiv-Dubai flight takes almost five hours, so we must reorganize the operation and maintenance of airplanes,” says Akosh Bush, Wizz Air Ukraine general manager.
As for competition with Fly Dubai and Air Arabia, he noted that, in addition to transit, “there is also a heavy direct flow of passengers.” “I think we will be also able to furnish places for tour operators in this direction. This pattern has already been adopted on the routes to other destinations, such as Antalya, Treviso, and Girona,” Bush added.