Ukraine International Airlines upgrades all-Boeing fleet; new routes from Kiev to Geneva and Tel Aviv starting soon

Last September, Ukraine International launched twice-weekly flights from Kiev to Abu Dhabi in code-share with Etihad Airways. UIA already serves Dubai twice-weekly in competition with its toughest Ukrainian rival, Aerosvit (four weekly). Earlier this month, UIA came up against AeroSvit again – launching Almaty services.

Formed in 1992 after Ukraine regained its independence (it was a member of the USSR from 1922 to 1991), Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) is the second largest scheduled airline in the country (after AeroSvit) with a fleet of 19 737s, which last year carried almost 800,000 passengers on scheduled services, down 15% on the 920,000 passengers handled in 2008 (Source: AEA). During the coming summer season, UIA will operate to 27 cities from Kiev (including four domestic routes to Donetsk, Lviv, Odessa and Simferopol), and six routes from Lviv to Barcelona, Donetsk, Kiev, Madrid, Milan and Rome (Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 July 2010). There is also a link between Odessa and Vienna, which can be explained by Austrian Airlines having a 22.5% shareholding in the carrier.

Chart:  Ukraine International Airlines - Monthly passengers 2007-2010 (thousands)

Source: AEA

After scheduled passenger growth of 11% in 2008, capacity was trimmed back in 2009 due to the economic situation in the country. The seasonality profile is typical of many European airlines with demand peaking in August when passenger numbers are around 80% higher than in February.

UIA and AeroSvit battle for supremacy in Kiev

UIA along with AeroSvit are the two leading airlines at Kiev’s Boryspil International airport, accounting for around 20% each of weekly scheduled seat capacity.

Airline Weekly Frequency
Weekly Departing Seats (share) Routes
(International / Domestic)
AeroSvit 131 (20.2%) 13,948 (20.1%) 24/4
UIA 109 (16.8%) 13,298 (19.2%) 19/3
Dnieproavia 132 (20.3%) 6,424 (9.3%) 0/8
Donbassaero 40 (6.2%) 5,060 (7.3%) 3/1
Lufthansa 35 (5.4%) 4,242 (6.1%) 3/0
Wizz Air 22 (3.4%) 3,840 (5.6%) 9/1
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 12 April 2010

UIA’s international network includes double-daily flights to Vienna and daily flights to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Tbilisi and Zurich. Notably, the airline does not offer flights to any airports in Russia. However, in contrast to its mostly western European network, it does operate four weekly flights to Abu Dhabi (in conjunction with Etihad) and three weekly flights to Dubai.

Chart: Top 14 UIA routes and competition - Weekly departures from Kiev (KBP)

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 12 April 2010

Analysis of UIA’s busiest routes from Kiev (at least four weekly frequencies) reveals that the highest level of competition is provided on domestic routes. On international routes, UIA and AeroSvit seem to try and avoid too much head-to-head competition, with UIA’s main threat coming from the likes of Air France, Austrian, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa.

New routes from Donetsk, Lviv and Kiev

Ukraine International Airlines - adEarlier this month, the airline began serving Almaty in Kazakhstan with three weekly flights from Kiev. Next week should see the start of another new route to Geneva which will also be served thrice-weekly using the airline’s 737-500s. In May, UIA will start flying to Tel Aviv from Kiev, while seasonal flights to the Croatian cities of Dubrovnik, Pula and Split also resume in May. However, one network casualty appears to be Brussels. Four times weekly services to the Belgian capital apparently end on 26 April. New services from Donetsk starting this summer include Rome (30 April) and Dubrovnik (5 June).

As part of its fleet replacement plan, UIA has acquired four 737-800s during the last year which, according to the airline, will help lower seat costs by as much as 30% compared with the smaller 737-500s the airline also operates. One of the routes the airline hopes to operate with the new aircraft is Delhi, which would be UIA’s first route to India.


  1. Maarten says:

    Please note that Ukraine International is not discontinuing its flights to Brussels. On the contrary frequencies were increased from 4 to 5 times weekly, although with a stop in Vienna.

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