Ukraine’s Justice Ministry agreed to suspend the implementation of new aviation rules pending talks with foreign carriers including discount operator Wizz Air, which had said the changes might force it to quit the country.
Ukraine will consult with stakeholders on the rules, which were proposed on Oct. 24 and would require carriers with bases there to be more than 50 percent locally owned and to offer domestic flights with international ones, the ministry said.
“Wizz Air Ukraine is ready to take an active part in the discussion of the new draft and hopes that any new regulatory regime will support the liberalization of the Ukrainian aviation market,” Akos Bus, who heads the unit of Vecses, Hungary-based Wizz, said in an e-mailed statement.
Ukraine’s flag carrier, Ukraine International Airlines, known as UIA, which has reported $90 million in losses so far this year, is the only airline that could comply with the new requirements in their current form, Wizz Air said on Nov. 20, though the regulations would apply only to new routes and not be retroactive, according to the State Aviation Service.
Ukraine’s aviation regulator is headed by Denys Antoniuk, who was director of route and alliances development at UIA before being appointed to the post on March 12.
Wizz carried 15 million people in the 12 months through August and will have 54 Airbus Group NV A320s by the end of this year. The Ukraine arm attracted 1 million passengers in 2013 and serves 16 routes from Kiev with two 180-seat A320s — a model it says couldn’t make money on short-hop domestic services.
UIA’s main shareholder is billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, governor of the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, according to local press reports. The company has historically denied this and didn’t respond to an e-mailed query from Bloomberg News.
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