On February 8, press breakfast ‘Open Sky: when everyone can fly’ was held in Kyv with participation of Iryna Sushko, ‘Europe Without Barriers’; Volodymyr Omelyan, Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine; Kateryna Kulchytska, ‘Europe without Barriers’; Zoryana Mishchuk, ‘Civic Synergy’.
We are publishing a brief text and photo report from the event.
The event was opened by Iryna Sushko, Executive Director of the ‘Europe without Barriers’, NGO, who shared general information on the event.
“Since the CAA Agreement, it’s signing and the entry into force are still in the mid-term or long-term perspective, we would like to talk about Ukraine, what its relevant state authorities must do today, right now, not waiting for finishing all the formalities regarding the CAA Agreement. Also, we would like to say what occurs today with the EU directives and regulations implementation provided by the Agreement, and what are the latest innovations in the field of attraction of lowcosts as well as investments in regional airports. Сertainly, we will be interested in what is happening in the sphere of bilateral relations, negotiations between Ukraine and the EU member states on the open sky. This is a list of issues on the agenda, which, of course, is not exaustive”, she said.
“Also, we would like to present you the research that was designed to understand what awaits Ukraine during and after the implementation of the CAA Agreement on the example of Moldova and Georgia that had already signed the Agreement in 2012 and 2010, respectively,” – she added and introduced next speaker – Ms Zoryana Mishchuck, the key expert of the ‘Civic Synergy’ project, that supported the research on Open Sky in Ukraine and the today’s event.
“The success of European integration reforms depends on the involvement of different actors. The progress is possible when there is political will or at least no resistance from the main political players, there are reformers in the executive branch, there is an understanding of their interests on the ground among the authorities and local businesses, as well as active non-governmental organizations that help to introduce such problems as wide as possible to the society, to demonstrate the society where its interest is, and thus to heighten public interest, possibly, the pressure on the authorities in this area too”, – she pointed.
Ms. Mishchuk added that ‘Civic Synergy’ helps to engage the dialogue among all stakeholders, in particular, ensures active public participation in the process. Sge noted that in her opinion, aviation is a sphere where reforms can bring benefits to all or almost all members of the society.
Iryna Sushko reminded that this event is a final one within the framework of the project. Previous events were held in Odessa and Lviv with the participation of local authorities representatives, airports, and businesses, where was discussed what is happening on the local level even without signing a CAA Agreement, and how airports attract lowcost carriers and investments.
She also thanked the Ministry of Infrastructure for fruitful cooperation last year an introduced the audience Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan.
“It is a great honor for me to spend this morning with you. I thank ‘Europe without barriers,’ ‘International Renaissance Foundation,’ Civic Synergy’ for supporting the public debate. In fact, everything that is done in Ukraine from the positive perspective for the last four years is the result of the public pressure, and I am sure this is the right path for the country,” the minister began.
At first, he talked about the infrastructure reforms.
“What we want to prove with infrastructure reforms is that the country can be different. The terrible state we are in, saying, 90% depreciation of of the basic infrastructure, in reality, is not a big failure, it’s a big chance, and we want to use it. We see what happens in other countries – in France and Germany. They are constantly upgrading their infrastructure, their economy. We have a chance to use their experience and move from zero or negative mark to a developed fourth type civilization”, – he said.
Mr Omelyan also explained the successes in the aviation sphere by the transition to a more market-based management system.
“What is the reason of success and why does this 30% growth of air traffic happen for the second year? Explanation is simple: we moved officials off the field of manual control of the aviation sector, restricted them to determine manually who, how and when is flying. We left all of that to the will of the market. Each airline asking for new routes since 2016 receives this route. There is no refusals, no bribes, no speculations”.
The minister predicted that the market growth would continue this year and the nextone, then it will stabilizate, and the further development will depend on the welfare of citizens, the development of tourism, and so on.
He also noted that “If there were no blockade, Ryanair would have flight to Ukraine in September 2017 already”.
Speaking about the market situation of Western Europe the minister noted that the situation there had changed dramatically over the past seven years, and the budget carriers whom the traditional airlines despised have received more than 50% of the market in many European countries.
“If the airlines looked at them outwardly before – well, it’s some bus, train, we are not afraid. But now they woke up and understood that they are scared.”
According to the minister, budget transportation is essential both to increase the mobility of Ukrainian citizens and to increase the availability of Ukraine for foreigners. He also emphasized the economic effect:
“We believe that an increase in the budget aviation segment will increase the number of passengers to 71 million in 2030. Today it is only 15 million. It will give 800 thousand new jobs, will have a positive impact on GDP – an increase of 65 billion UAH in 2030. Namely – 16 billion UAN on the airport revenues, 18 billion – airport construction and support, 8 billion for trade development, 22 billion – tourism. Provided that the lowcost transportations will amount to at least 50% in the system of airlines that fly to Ukraine and from Ukraine.”
He also noted that there are ‘deep troubles’ with airports in Ukraine. According to him, only Lviv and Borispol have good runways, Kharkiv is in ‘not bad situation’, in Odessa the repair of the runway started. Also, the minister spoke about plans for the reconstruction of Dnipro airport.
There are necessary things in which the state should invest. These are runways. Everything else business will do itself.
About CAA Agreement
On the 20th of February, there will be a Ukraine-EU transport dialogue. I hope to hear from the partners the date of signing the CAA Agreement.
Our goal is to increase number of Ukrainians who use air transport from the current 5% to at least 25%.
Iryna Sushko has drawn attention to the analytical report and its important conclusion that, despite the delay in signing the CAA Agreement, it is now necessary to harmonize the legislation of Ukraine and the EU in the field of civil aviation.
“Also it remains in agenda of Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement and the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of 2017 on the Preparatory Action Plan for the implementation the CAA”, she emphasized and described the main outlines of the analysis.
The subject was the experience of Georgia and Moldova who signed their CAA Agreements with the EU in 2010 and 2012. The principal conclusion is that the implementation process of the Agreement is very long. For example, despite significant progress in Moldova, four years after the signing of the Agreement, it is still needed to pass more than 70 normative acts.
At the same time, despite the incompleteness of implementation, competition in both countries has increased, and prices has fallen.
In both countries after signing the Agreement passenger traffic has increased but it can not be completely arguable that this was due to the signing of the CAA. For example, in Ukraine, it grows even without the agreement, although here it is necessary to take into account the effect of a low comparative base after the fall of 2014.
The signing of the Agreement does not guarantee the low-costs arrival and does not automatically reorient the market to the European Union.
However, in Ukraine, the situation may and will be different, as there is larger market, another situation with the presence of local carriers, airport network, etc.
We can say that the benefits of joining the Common Aviation Area in Ukraine can be much more visible than they are today in Georgia and in Moldova – because of the transport and human potential, which is seen by our survey results. We consider that it can attract foreign carriers, but at the same time the Ukrainian ones will develop”, said Iryna Sushko.
She also mentioned the concrete steps that, according to the public experts, should be used to accelerate the harmonization of the Ukrainian and EU legislation: “We consider that it is worthily to finalize and submit for adoption by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine a new Action Plan for introducing the CAA Agreement and it should indicate the procedure for the incorporation of all EU directives and norms, which are specified in Appendix I to the Agreement on the CAA, because today the Plan identifies only a few such tasks”. Also, we stand for the concluding bilateral agreements with the EU member states,” she added.
Kateryna spoke about the prepared by ‘Europe without barriers’ jointly with the ‘Democratic Initiative’ public opinion survey on the use of avia transport.
At first, she talked about the answers to questions about the issuance of travel passports and drew attention to the fact that the largest number of respondents who did not want to get a passport at all – located in the Central Ukraine contrary to the widespread stereotype of low mobility on the East.
Answering the question from the audience how to explain it, Kateryna suggested that it is possible that the things lie in settled patterns of behavior of the inhabitants of the region, which are close to the borders – in the West or in the East, – who are more often in need to get a passport. She also called some answers to questions about the frequency of travelling to the EU, travelling by airplane, the purpose of the trip, and factors affecting the choice of air transport.
According to the survey results:
- As of November 2017, 12.6% of Ukrainian citizens had the new biometric passports
- More than half (56%) of those polled who do not have a biometric passport, are not going to issue it
- During the last two years, only 11.8% of Ukrainians have visited the EU. The largest share of them visited the EU once (40.6%) or twice (28.6%)
- Only about 5% of Ukrainians flew to the EU over the past two years
- The inhabitants of the western regions fly to the EU least (22,2%), which is likely to be explained by the proximity of the border
- The majority of respondents consider that the low cost (42.8%), direct connection (20.7%), and comfort flight conditions (18%) are the most important factors in choosing airline tickets.
- Most of the respondents (43.6%) are not willing to pay more than a thousand hryvnias for the airline ticket to the EU. 28.7% believe that they can afford to pay for travel with such a plane no more than 500 UAH, another 14.9% – that they can pay from 500 to 1000, and 5.4% are willing to pay from 1000 to 2000 UAH. Almost half (48, 6%) hesitate to answer.
According to Kateryna Kulchytska, a high percentage of ‘uncertainties’ is due to the lack of air travel skills. “It is difficult for them to decide, because, first of all, they do not have any travel experience at all. They do not know at all how much it can cost and have not yet considered for themselves air transport as an alternative to traveling by bus, car, or train”. She added that about 13% of Ukrainians are ready to use aviation in case of entry to the market of new budget airlines, which could mean millions of new customers for the market.
Volodymyr Omelyan said that these data fully correspond to the data of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine. He also answered several questions from the audience.
About Mariupol airport
From the safety point of view, it is impossible to support the opening of the airport in Mariupol. Russians can easily find the false man and shoot down a plane on the take-off. It costs nothing but will have catastrophic consequences for everyone.
Now we have no such counteraction like it was in 2016. Now we are already more braked by the bureaucracy, we are in the process of coordinating the routes. And there is a very strong feeling of CAA insufficiency. If the CAA had been signed by the European Union we would have already said when and where the new low-cost companies will fly. But I am convinced that this year Ryanair will be in Ukraine – in Kyiv, Boryspil, and Lviv.
As for the establishment of a state airline
There is not such thing at all and I really want it will never appear.
In my opinion, if there is a state property, it does not belong to anyone. It just so happened. In such way, our trading fleet has disappeared and our airlines vanished …
If the state intervenes, firstly, there will be discrimination and, secondly, I’m not sure about whether the state has a financial resource to start a normal airline.
The maximum that we should think is the involvement, creation of low-cost Ukrainian private carriers, and try to create such a model for the Antonov airline that their regional airplanes will be profitable to use by budget airlines for transportation within Ukraine. But then the question to the company “Antonov”. So far, the cost of their armchair is high enough.
They have their own vision of certification. We support the idea of a European certificate in Ukraine. There are pluses and minuses in it.
The plus is that plane certified by EASA is certified for the whole world. Minus is the company Airbus in Europe, question is how Europeans will certify aircraft that can potentially compete their one, how long this process will last, and it’s not very cheap for us. These issues will raise during the Ukraine-EU transport dialogue.
About Uzhhorod airport
We were almost at the final level with the Slovak side, but now this issue has to be resolved at the Brussels level. The airport has physical limitations – it is necessary to land from the Slovakia side, and now there was a kind of new buildings there. At the same time, better located Mukachevo airport is practically destroyed. The runway may be executed there, but not in an intense way. We can take one-time permissions from the Slovak side, but it is not beneficial for regular flights. Unless there is Brussels agreement, and we have to wait as in the case of the CAA.
Euro railroad to Mukachevo
In order to unite the Zakarpattia with Ukraine and with the EU more strongly, we are now completing the Euro railroad to Mukachevo to launch a direct train of Mukachevo-Budapest and increase the speed at the Mukachevo-Kiev location.
The project is being implemented under the auspices of the Ukrainian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum with the assistance of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the grant component of the Civic Synergy project. The individual opinions expressed in the publications and during the events are the personal position of the authors/speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation