Resolute Kyiv Airport CEO Outlines Recovery Plan
LODZ, Poland—The CEO of Kyiv Boryspil Airport has signaled that the Ukrainian airport remains operationally ready for the return of commercial traffic as soon as the war in the country is over.
During an impassioned address at Routes Europe 2023 in Lodz, Poland, on May 10, Oleksiy Dubrevskyy delivered a resolute message to the aviation community, revealing that the airport is already working on recovery plans.
“The heart of civil aviation in Ukraine is still beating, and the heart of Kyiv Boryspil Airport is also beating,” he said.
Dubrevskyy outlined that traffic at Kyiv Boryspil, Ukraine’s main international gateway, had reached 9.5 million passengers in 2021, equivalent to about 62% of pre-pandemic figures. He said that the airport was forecast to increase traffic to 12-13 million passengers in 2022, which would have pushed it closer to a full recovery.
However, the airport's aspirations were abruptly halted on Feb. 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Dubrevskyy provided insight into the airport's immediate response to the crisis, which entailed collaboration with military forces, the closure of runways and relocating aircraft to remote areas. “The main focus for us was just to stay alive,” he said. “To stay alive and to provide emergency actions in order to save the lives of others.”
Dubrevskyy said that Kyiv Boryspil has a comprehensive plan to maintain its infrastructure, ensuring it remains operationally ready to restart, comparing the airport to a small town that cannot be switched off. About 600 staff are required on a daily basis for maintenance purposes, but all 3,615 employees have been retained, with the airport continuing to compensate them at a rate of two-thirds of their regular salary.
After analyzing demand patterns after previous crises, Dubrevskyy believes that traffic will return within two to three years of the conflict in Ukraine ending. He said that pent-up demand, refugee migration, reconstruction of infrastructure and international aid, and a Ukraine-EU open skies agreement would drive the recovery.
“We are strong, we will win, we are not broken,” Dubrevskyy said. “Sooner or later, we will be back on track, and we need to think about the future.”