Ukraine's Government Plots Aeropolitical Coup to Win Back Ryanair

2017/9/7 12:27:00

Ukraine's Transport Minister, Volodymyr Omelyan, and Ryanair's Chief Commercial Officer, David O'Brien, were all smiles when it appeared that Ryanair would be coming to Lviv’s international airport after talks earlier this year. However, it didn’t take for the deal to fall apart with Ryanair canceling its planned launch in the country.

 


By Martin Rivers, a Forbes CONTRIBUTOR

 

          Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

 

With a score of 29 out of 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index – placing it 131st out of 176 counties – Ukraine was guaranteed a turbulent ride in March when its pro-Western government moved to liberalize the closely guarded civil aviation market. It ultimately took just four months for Ryanair to cancel its planned launch in the country, retreating from what Volodymyr Omelyan, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister, describes as “sabotage” by a network of post-Soviet oligarchs and vested interests.

 

The fiasco snatched €19.99 airfares from the very people who need them most. Ukraine’s GDP per capita is the second lowest in Europe, behind only Moldova, and its local aviation sector is dominated by just one carrier: Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), which is in turn controlled by the billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. The closest thing UIA had to a serious competitor, Aerosvit Airlines, was shut down four years ago. (Not that it made much difference: Kolomoyskyi owned Aerosvit as well.)

 

While Ryanair cites the fallout as proof that Ukraine is not a “sufficiently mature or reliable business location,” Omelyan is pressing on with bold – some say over-ambitious – plans to purge the aviation sector of corrupt, anti-competitive officials.

 

Chief among his targets is Pavlo Riabikin, the boss of Kyiv Boryspil International Airport, the gateway that promised to welcome Ryanair with open arms, before suddenly and unilaterally re-writing the terms of its invitation.

 

[…]

https://www.forbes.com/sites/martinriv ... coup-to-win-back-ryanair/

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