Ukraine redoubles efforts to attract foreign low-cost carriers

Moscow
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Ukrainian authorities are working at attracting several foreign low-cost carriers to the local market following the planned introduction of services by Spain's Vueling and Italy's Air One.

Vueling will begin flights between Barcelona and Kiev on 29 May, while Air One will start serving Kiev from Catania on 1 June.

The country's infrastructure deputy minister, Dmitry Demidovich, says the ministry is also holding talks with other low-cost specialists, including EasyJet and Ryanair.

He adds that EasyJet is exploring the possibility of flying to Ukraine from the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland. In 2012, Ryanair looked to establish seasonal links from Germany and the UK to Kiev, Lviv and Donetsk.

Under the national economic action plan, president Viktor Yanukovich last month set a goal of bringing five new foreign carriers to Ukraine's airports.

The country's two major international gateways - Kiev Borispol and Zhulyany airports - both say they have initiated discussions with leading European no-frills carriers.

Donetsk airport is negotiating with hybrid low-cost carrier Air Baltic, which already provides services to its hub in Riga from Kiev, Odessa and Simferopol.

Meanwhile, Wizz Air wants to enhance its Ukrainian operations by adding flights from Donetsk and Kharkov to Kutaisi in Georgia, as well as from Kiev to several capitals in Eastern Europe.

Wizz Air's commercial director, Natalya Artyomova, believes the local market has a significant potential for growth. "In 2012, we transported 633,000 passengers with two [Airbus A320] aircraft," she says. "After doubling our local capacity we expect this figure to increase to more than 1 million this year."