Urgent and longer-term support needed for Ukrainian airports

ACI EUROPE today expressed concerns over the daunting challenges faced by airports in Ukraine and sought to help address them by bringing together its Ukrainian airport members with all relevant stakeholders in Brussels.

Having lost all commercial air traffic since February 2022 and suffered significant war-inflicted destruction, Ukrainian airports are currently striving to recover and maintain their operational capabilities.

Repairing damaged infrastructure, maintaining facilities, equipment and related certification, are crucial to ensure that Ukraine keeps its critical aviation infrastructure up and running.

It is also vital that staff are retained, and that they stay motivated with continuous training.

This is a prerequisite for the country to be able to restore its connectivity and thus facilitate its economic restart when air traffic re-opens.

But as Ukrainian airports’ financial reserves are exhausted, they now need adequate and urgent financial support.

The costs involved in rebuilding damaged airport infrastructure across Ukraine is currently estimated at over €200 million while the financial needs to maintain operational readiness on a yearly basis stands at €52.8 million.

The meeting convened by ACI EUROPE today aimed at reviewing and addressing these issues – while also charting the way forward for the long-term redevelopment of Ukrainian airports.

It allowed to bring together for the first time Ukrainian airports, high-level representatives from the Ukrainian Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development, the Ukrainian Ministry for Finance, the Ukrainian Civil Aviation Authority, UkSTATSE, the European Commission, EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), Eurocontrol, the EIB (European Investment Bank) and the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE said: “Today’s meeting was an important first step to address the array of both short and longer-term challenges faced by Ukrainian airports.

“Airlines such as airBaltic, Ryanair and Wizz Air have already signalled their readiness to reconnect Ukraine with the rest of Europe as soon as safely possible.

“But that requires Ukrainian airports not just to rebuild but also to recover and maintain their operational capabilities in full.

“As the war drags on, this is no longer something they can do on their own – and it is urgent that the Ukrainian Government now uses part of the financial aid provided by the EU for that purpose.

“For its part, ACI EUROPE will call on its 550-strong airport membership to consider offering incentives on user charges for any flight serving Ukraine, in order to support the rebuilding of essential air connectivity.

“This will of course require flexibility and support from national regulators, where needed.

“Looking at the longer-term, the role of the EU and multilateral financial institutions will also be essential in supporting the development of Ukrainian airports in terms of capacity, digitalisation and sustainability along with their effective integration into the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network.”

Sergiy Derkach, Deputy Minister for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine said: “In response to airspace closures due to the Russian invasion, our top priorities include infrastructure readiness and personnel proficiency.

“These steps are crucial for a swift resumption of civilian flights once security allows.

“This restoration will have a positive impact on the national economy, accessibility, refugee return, and post-war recovery efforts.

“We thank our European partners for their invaluable support in this endeavour.”