Ryanair pledges to base 30 new aicraft in Ukraine after conflict ends

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair said on Thursday it plans to base up to 30 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at Ukraine’s three main airports and fly over five million passengers a year when fighting eventually ends.

The airline’s statement came as Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary met Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for Restoration Oleksandr Kubrakov in Kyiv and visited Boryspil international airport, 30km east of the capital.

The Irish company, which was Ukraine’s second largest airline before Russia’s invasion, plans to expand from just serving Kharkiv and Kherson to operating 600 weekly flights connecting the three main airports of Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa to over 20 European capitals.

It also plans to open daily domestic flights between the three cities as soon as those airports are able to handle them and double the number of seats to, from and within Ukraine to over 10 million within five years.

Ryanair said the 30 new jets it plans to base in Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa will be worth over $3 billion. Ryanair sealed a multibillion-dollar deal for as many as 300 new Boeing jets in May.

“Ryanair has committed to returning with low fare flights to and from Ukraine within 8 weeks of the reopening of Ukraine air space,” O’Leary, who has previously pledged to return quickly to Ukraine once the conflict has ended, said in the statement.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Mike Harrison)