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Ukraine working ‘intensively’ to restore air travel

Ukraine airport

(Reuters) — Ukraine is working “intensively” with partners to restore air travel suspended for nearly two years, with the main focus on Boryspil International Airport outside the capital Kyiv, a presidential official said Thursday.

Ukraine's airspace was abruptly closed by Russia's invasion in February 2022 due to the security risk for civil aviation, and anyone visiting has to make their way by road or rail from a neighboring country.

Kyiv sees a restoration of air travel as a goal towards victory for the economy.

“I don't want to create over-expectations ... but I can tell you we are working very intensively to recover the air connection in Ukraine,” Rostyslav Shurma, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office, said during a panel discussion in Davos.

Mr. Shurma declined to give a timeline for the possible restoration of air travel but said Ukraine had an “internal roadmap and schedule.”

He said Kyiv was consulting with Israeli colleagues on technical specifications to enable the restoration process, without elaborating. Israel has long experience in deploying air defense systems to protect its infrastructure.

“We need to get approvals from the IATA (International Air Transport Association) and FAA (the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration) which is not an easy case. And it depends more on the bold decisions of international partners that we believe we'll get,” Mr. Shurma said.

An insurance program for grain shipments through the Black Sea corridor, run by broker Marsh with insurers and Ukrainian state banks, could be used as a blueprint for restoring air travel, Marsh CEO John Doyle said.

“The near-term focus is moving past that Unity facility (for grain shipments), using that as a blueprint to support other aspects of the economy. As we discussed, travel is an important part of it. That’s going to be part of our focus over the coming months,” he told the same panel in Davos.

Mr. Shurma said Ukraine was considering reopening either Boryspil airport or another in the western region of Lviv, but the international hub near Kyiv was the priority.

In December, Boryspil saw the departure of a Boeing 777-300 on a technical flight, a sign the infrastructure remains in working condition.