Wednesday 23 September 2015

UKRAINE: Odessa Leads Ukrainian Traffic Recovery

The shape of things to come. Odessa International Airport’s new terminal is scheduled to open during the second quarter of 2016 in time for the peak summer season. It will be able to handle 1,000 passengers per hour and an estimated 2.5 million per annum, with 26 check-in desks and four airbridges.

Located in the south-west corner of Ukraine, close to the border with Moldova, and nearer to Chisinau (150 kilometres) and Bucharest (410 kilometres) than it is to the capital Kiev (440 kilometres), Odessa is Ukraine’s third biggest city with a population of over one million people. Located on the Black Sea it is a centre for culture, industry science and tourism.

Odessa International Airport, which handled over one million passengers in 2013, is currently constructing a new terminal which should be ready for use by the middle of next year. In the space of a decade, between 2003 and 2013, passenger numbers at the airport increased fourfold.

However, developments in the political situation in Ukraine last year resulted in the airport seeing a near 20% drop in passenger numbers to 860,000.

However, in 2015 demand has recovered well, with passenger numbers at a level between those seen in 2012 and the airport’s record year of 2013. According to the airport, it expects to handle around 935,000 passengers in 2015. Whereas across all Ukrainian airports passenger numbers in July 2015 were up a modest 3.8% compared with July 2014, Odessa’s demand was up 32.5%, the most of any Ukrainian airport. A similar analysis for the first seven months of 2015 shows that while total Ukrainian airport traffic is down 3.8% to 5.78 million, Odessa’s traffic is up 6.6% to 534,000.

On 1 July, Georgian Airways launched twice-weekly flights from Tbilisi to Odessa using a mix of its CRJ 200s and 737-500s. There was some traditional dancing on the apron to help mark the occasion.

Based on 2013 data the airport’s SVID score comes out at 10.48 (“poor”) with the peak demand month of August generating more than twice as many passengers as the airport handles in the early part of the year (January to March).
Moscow, Kiev and Istanbul are busiest routes

The airport’s leading routes at this time of year are Moscow, Kiev and Istanbul Atatürk. All of these can be used as hubs to connect on to many other destinations with Aeroflot, Ukraine International Airlines and Turkish Airlines respectively. Other major hubs served include Dubai (twice-weekly by flydubai), Vienna (four times weekly by Austrian Airlines) and Warsaw (six times weekly by LOT Polish Airlines). According to the airport’s flight schedules page on its website, Antalya would appear to be the most popular leisure destination with services provided by Ukraine International Airlines, UTair Ukraine and Wind Rose.

Austrian Airlines returned to Odessa after a five-year absence at the start of the summer 2015 season, operating four weekly flights from Vienna with its Fokker jets. Austrian, Ellinair (from Thessaloniki) and LOT Polish Airlines (from Warsaw) are the only carriers currently serving Odessa from airports in the EU.

Odessa governor wants liberalisation of air services
The recent appointment of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as governor of Odessa has seen him make aviation development a priority. He has been a major reason for resuming the once frozen terminal construction project, and also Saakashvili has been outspoken on the importance of establishing an Open Skies agreement for Odessa to help generate an increase in inbound tourism and bringing low-cost carriers to the market. At present, tourism only accounts for one to one and a half percent of the region’s economy, which he believes could be greatly increased with a more liberal approach to air service development.

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