Kharkiv International Airport has presented ambitious plans for 2018 that will allow the air hub to add a range of new international destinations in countries including Italy, Poland, Spain, Georgia, Germany and Cyprus. This route expansion comes following a year of record-breaking passenger growth that saw Kharkiv International Airport increase passenger flow by 35% - significantly above the already impressive national growth average of 27%.
Speaking at a presentation of the airport’s 2018 strategy, Kharkiv Oblast Governor Yulia Svitlychna stressed its regional importance as the primary gateway to the whole of eastern Ukraine. “Kharkiv International Airport is the largest in eastern Ukraine and serves people in the Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporyzhia, Sumy and Poltava oblasts. In 2017, the airport exceeded passenger expansion expectations and handled 30% more flights. This growth trend will continue in 2018.”
The Kharkiv Governor noted the return of WizzAir to Kharkiv, with flights to Dortmund in Germany and Katowice in Poland expected to begin operations in the first half of the year. Georgian Airlines will introduce two weekly flights to Tbilisi, while new Ukrainian budget carrier SkyUp will enter the Kharkiv market with flights to a number of international destinations including Barcelona, Larnaca, Tivat, Burgas and Rimini. National carrier Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) will also develop its Kharkiv offer by introducing direct flights to Bergamo in northern Italy. Negotiations are also underway to add flights to Vienna with Austrian Airlines and a Dubai service via Air Dubai.
Airport chief Volodymyr Vasilchenko spoke at length about some of the new services set to launch in the coming months. Vasilchenko is General Director of New Systems AM, which is part of Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group and the operator of Kharkiv International Airport. He confirmed plans to build on the success of 2017, when the airport posted record-breaking passenger growth and welcomed leading global carrier Turkish Airlines.
Vasilchenko underlined the advantageous transit options presented by Kharkiv’s new WizzAir destinations, with Dortmund offering flights to the likes of Dusseldorf and Amsterdam, while WizzAir hub Katowice offers an even wider range of connections. “Thanks to these flights, our passengers will be able to reach places like Norway, Portugal and Ireland without numerous transfers or additional expenses.”
He also drew attention to the new UIA route connecting Kharkiv with Bergamo. “We are grateful to UIA for the decision to launch this service. Bergamo is a tourist center in its own right and only a short distance from Milan, which is reachable throughout the day.” Meanwhile, Vasilchenko explained that the new direct service connecting Kharkiv with Georgian capital city Tbilisi benefits from shorter flight times. “The key advantage of our cooperation with Georgian Airlines is that unlike Ukrainian airlines, they are not subject to restrictions on crossing Russian Federation airspace, and so are able to significantly reduce travel time. The flight from Kharkiv to Tbilisi will be 40 minutes shorter than possible with domestic carriers.”
Kharkiv International Airport underwent a complete redevelopment by Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group as a centerpiece of preparations for Kharkiv’s role as a host city during UEFA’s Euro 2012 football championship. The redevelopment project involved the construction of an entirely new terminal complex and the reconstruction of existing terminal facilities, involving an investment of over USD 100 million.
International recognition of the airport’s performance has been evident since the end of 2016, when Kharkiv International Airport’s impressive annual growth stats earned the airport a place among Europe’s best performers in the “below five million passenger” category from the Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe). This made Kharkiv only the second Ukrainian air hub to feature in the annual ACI Europe rating.