The echo of war remains loud in the transport sector. Airline companies continue to lose passengers and the situation in the country is not yet promising anything good for the economy. According to operational data from the State Aviation Administration, domestic airlines’ transport volumes reduced by 14.8% to 4.53 million in the period of January-August this year. The worst affected were domestic flights, where passenger flows reduced by 39.9% to 475,000. The Simferopol and Donetsk airports, which provided good passenger traffic to airline companies a year ago, are not accessible today.

Airlines August, which is the final month of the summer and is favorable to tourism, also failed to offer happy results. Passenger transportation by airline companies reduced by 27.1% to 774,200 during this period. At the same time, passenger transportation on international charter flights reduced by 23.55% to 278,800. The reasons for such indicators are, perhaps, the same: the reduction of the purchasing power of customers and the wait-and-see attitude assumed by many of them. The numbers of passengers on Moscow flights, which were previously considered among the most commercially attractive flights, have reduced markedly. Passenger traffic on regular international routes fell by 22% to 436,500.

Some foreign carriers are leaving the Ukrainian market because of the weakening of the market. In particular, Kiev-Zurich flights by Swiss International Air Lines, Kiev-Oslo flights by Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Kiev-Rome flights by Alitalia will not be available in the winter timetable.

Ukrainian airlines are taking steps to optimize their networks of routes. In particular, Wizz Air Ukraine - the only domestic low-cost airline - has decided to stop operating Lvov-Dortmund flights and instead add Lvov-Naples flights, which will allow it to operate flights from Naples to Lvov and back and subsequently return to its base in Kiev.

"Taking into account the fact that we are stopping operation of Lvov-Dortmund flights in November 2014, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new flight from Lvov to Naples, which our airline will start operating from December 23. Naples is the fourth destination to which the airline will fly from Lvov," said Wizz Air Ukraine’s General Director Akos Bus.

Ukraine International Airlines, which is in a difficult situation, recently gained the status of ACC3 (Air Cargo or Mail Carrier Operating into the European Union from a Third-Country Airport), which gives it the right to deliver cargo and mail to the European Union from airports in non-member states of the European Union. However, this is unlikely to help the flagship airline to compensate for its losses on passenger markets because, as a rule, they repeat the dynamics of cargo markets. In connection with this, the segment of cargo transportation by air is also suffering, and Ukraine International Airlines is actively seeking cargo owners that are willing to use its aircraft. It is not yet clear how YanAir and FlyVista, which have launched new flights to Tbilisi, will feel on the eve of a low winter season.

Airports As for airports, they are repeating the overall negative trend on the market. Passenger traffic through Ukrainian airports reduced by 23.2% to 7.625 million passengers in the first eight months of this year. This indicator fell by 38.4% to 1.149 million in August. Passenger traffic through virtually all the major airports in the country reduced. In particular, the Boryspil airport served 8.5% fewer passengers in the first eight months of this year (4.673 million) compared with the corresponding period of last year. The Dnipropetrovsk airport, which became the second airports in the country after the loss of the Simferopol and Donetsk airports, saw an increase of 10% to 324,100 passengers. This is due to the closure of the main airports in the Donbass industrial region, as a result of which passengers from cities in the Donetsk region are forced to use airports in neighboring regions, such as Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk, for their flights.

Kiev’s Zhuliany airport is greatly affected by the crisis in the aviation industry

Kiev’s Zhuliany airport is greatly affected by the crisis in the aviation industry. According to information from the Ministry of Transport, passenger traffic through the airport fell by 37.7% to 764,700 in the first eight months of this year. The biggest fall in passenger traffic was recorded on domestic routes, on which the number of passengers transported reduced by 71.5% to 90,900 in January-August. The Zhuliany airport’s base airline, UTair Ukraine, which focused mainly on operating flights between Ukrainian cities and linked Kiev with major regional centers, was in operation a year ago. Moreover, UTair Ukraine’s route network at that time included two of the most attractive routes: Kiev-Simferopol and Kiev-Donetsk. UTair Ukraine has practically ceased operations, and carriers such as Urga, YanAir, and Motor Sich are now trying to fill its niche.

In January-August, passenger traffic reduced by 13.6% to 410,500 at the Lvov airport, by 17.4% to 587,500 at the Odessa airport, and by 16.5% to 330,100 at the Kharkiv airport.

Outlook As before, experts are predicting hard times for the Ukrainian aviation industry. "The beginning of September is traditionally a failure, but unfortunately, this year's failure period is expected not only in September but throughout the entire autumn. My prediction: not more than 60% in the autumn and 70% in the entire year, compared with last year. Business activity among the population is much lower than expected because of the ongoing war and the economic crisis. Transit traffic has not increased. On the contrary, it continues to reduce. If the main business destinations last year were Moscow, Western Europe, and Mediterranean countries, then there are currently no routes that can boast high demand," the Stil Avia company’s Director Yevhen Khainatskyi told the Center for Transport Strategies.

He added that Ukraine is becoming less attractive to foreign airlines, which is the first sign of a deep market stagnation that can last more than one year. "We should be ready for changes on the market and welcome them with anti-crisis programs at every company and in the industry as a whole," he said.