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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Ukraine appeals to Ryanair to restart flights talks

Prime minister vows to look into why negotiations stalled, leading Irish carrier to cancel plans

Ukraine wants Ryanair to resume talks over services. Philippe Hugen / AFP
Ukraine wants Ryanair to resume talks over services. Philippe Hugen / AFP

Ukraine wants to resume talks with the low-cost Irish airline Ryanair, the prime minister Volodymyr Groysman said, after the airline cancelled plans to begin flights to Kiev this year.

After lengthy talks with Kiev's Boryspil airport, Ryanair said this week it had called off plans to offer flights to Kiev and the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, charging the airport was trying to "protect high-fare airlines".

Mr Groysman said he had met with the heads of Boryspil and the infrastructure ministry after the airline's announcement.

"We decided to resume the negotiation process with Ryanair," he said.

Asked if Ryanair would change its mind on quitting Ukraine, a spokesman for the airline said: "We will only reconsider flights to or from Ukraine should our agreements be honoured."

The collapse of the deal has drawn attention to the power of vested interests in Ukraine, whose government has vowed to tackle endemic corruption in exchange for a US$17.5 billion bailout deal from the IMF.

It has also dismayed many Ukrainians who had hoped to take advantage of cheaper flights after the recent introduction of a visa-free regime with the European Union.

Mr Groysman said Ukraine's anti-corruption body and anti-monopoly committee would examine if Boryspil's negotiations with Ryanair had been carried out fairly and in compliance with competition laws.

Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA), which is part-owned by the tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky, has denied it has been lobbying to prevent a deal between the airline and Boryspil.

The reformist policymaker Mustafa Nayyem said hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians had been robbed of the right to cheap air travel.

"I think there is going to be a big scandal," he said in a post on Facebook.