Turkish Airlines has begun operating a new flight service connecting the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with Istanbul. The airline will now fly from Kharkiv International Airport, one of Ukraine’s top regional air hubs following a complete reconstruction prior to the Euro 2012 football championships. Kharkiv’s airport is owned by Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, one of Ukraine’s wealthiest business figures who is currently ranked No. 8 in the annual Rich List published by the Ukrainian edition of Forbes Magazine.
The first Turkish Airlines flight touched down in Kharkiv on March 30. The occasion saw an official presentation and press conference at the airport attended by a range of dignitaries including representatives of Turkish Airlines, officials from Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group, Turkish and Ukrainian diplomats, and officials from the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure and regional authorities.
Ahmet Olmustur, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer of Turkish Airlines, said the new route was already proving popular. “The flight from Kharkiv has only been open for booking for three months but we have already received 8,000 bookings. This is higher than our average indicators. Around 70% of these bookings have been made for flights to Kharkiv, while other reservations are for flights to Turkey and beyond.” Mr. Olmustur confirmed that flight frequency from Kharkiv is set to increase to seven days a week in the near future. Passengers travelling to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines will be able to take advantage of a wide range of connecting flights to global destinations.
During the events to mark the opening of this new Kharkiv-Istanbul service, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s team was represented by Volodymyr Vasylchenko, CEO of Kharkiv International Airport and one of the top managers of Yaroslavsky’s DCH business group. Mr. Vasylchenko highlighted the recent growth in traffic at the airport and outlined expectations for additional route expansion. Kharkiv International Airport saw a 60% increase in passengers in 2016, pointing to the huge potential of this regional air hub. “We expect that after the arrival of this world-class carrier, our growth will accelerate further,” commented Mr. Vasylchenko.
According to Ukrainian media reports, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky invested over USD 100 million in the reconstruction of Kharkiv International Airport, including the restoration of the airport’s Soviet-era terminal building and the construction of two new state-of-the-air terminals. Mr. Yaroslavsky’s total investments into Kharkiv region infrastructure are thought to total over USD 1 billion.
The First Counsellor of the Embassy of Turkey in Ukraine, Mr. Ozgun Talu, said cooperation between Kharkiv International Airport and Turkish Airlines should boost the number of Ukrainian visitors travelling to Turkey, while helping to attract Turkish investment to the Kharkiv region. “The opening of this new flight from Kharkiv will not only improve tourism flows between our two countries, but it will also make business trips easier,” he stressed.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Andriy Sybyha expressed his confidence that this new flight will help to facilitate business and friendly contacts between Ukraine and Turkey. “Turkish and Ukrainian people are one step closer, just like Kharkiv and Istanbul are. It is a display of real strategic partnership,” commented the Ambassador.
According to Ambassador Sybyha, more than one million Ukrainians visited Turkey in 2016 and over 200,000 Turkish citizens visited Ukraine. The Ambassador added that the recent agreement between Ukraine and Turkey allowing border crossing with internal ID passports should further intensify contacts between the two countries.