Ukraine to set up national air carrier

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Thursday that his country is preparing to set up a national air carrier — Ukrainian National Airlines (UNA), the government-run Ukrinform news agency reported.

Speaking at a forum on aviation tourism in the Boryspil International Airport, Zelensky said the government stands ready to invest in the country’s air fleet, provide orders to Ukrainian manufacturers and attract foreign partners into joint aircraft construction projects.

The establishment of the national airline would help Ukraine increase its air passenger traffic and boost the image of the country’s aviation industry, Zelensky said.

During the forum, the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry and the aircraft manufacturer Airbus signed a memorandum of cooperation, which paves the way for leasing or purchasing 22 aircraft by Kiev, according to Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who also participated in the forum, said that his cabinet plans to invest about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in the development of Ukraine’s aircraft industry in 2021-2030.

The Ukrainian aviation industry was severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the country’s air carriers served 4.8 million passengers, down 65 percent year on year.