Kharkiv International Airport set a new record for number of passengers in May 2017 as the regional economic recovery in eastern Ukraine continued to gain pace. In total, over 84,300 passengers used the airport in May, representing a 58% year-on-year increase on passenger levels during May 2016 and surpassing the previous record high of 80,000 set during the Euro 2012 football championships in summer 2012.
The rise in passenger traffic at Kharkiv International Airport reflects growing purchasing power in the region. These rising figures are also thanks to the introduction of new international flight services at the airport. Turkish Airlines is one of the latest international carriers to begin offering Kharkiv services, with the first Kharkiv-Istanbul flight touching down at the end of March.
The new passenger record set in May is the latest in a series of positive indicators from the airport that point to a robust regional recovery following the economic slump of 2014-15 due to Russia’s hybrid war offensive in the nearby Donbas region. The Russian attack left the entire Ukrainian economy reeling, with the country’s unofficial eastern capital Kharkiv particularly hard-hit due to long-standing economic interconnections with the Russian Federation.
However, the downward trend appeared to bottom out in late 2015, and Kharkiv International Airport recorded a 60% increase in passenger numbers in 2016. This upward trajectory appears to be continuing into 2017. With Ukrainians now enjoying visa-free travel to the EU, further significant growth in Kharkiv International Airport traffic is likely in the coming months.
Kharkiv International Airport was one of the centerpieces of Ukraine’s infrastructure improvements ahead of Euro 2012. The project received financing from Kharkiv business leader Oleksandr Yaroslavsky and was unveiled in summer 2010. The existing Soviet-era structure received a state-of-the-air runway upgrade and a completely new international terminal building, while Soviet structures underwent full renovation. It is the largest airport in eastern Ukraine, serving Kharkiv’s 1.5 million population and a surrounding catchment area with an additional multi-million population.