In aviation, safety has always been, is, and will continue to be everyone’s top priority. With the global pandemic severely disrupting flying and our travelling habits for over a year now, we have launched an initiative to talk to the air carriers flying to and from our airports.
In the fourth interview from our new "Five pre-flight questions" series, we talk to Yevheniy Dykhne, the CEO at Ukraine International Airlines, on how the airline has adapted, what additional safety measures have been put in place, and what the upcoming Summer season holds for us.
In the aviation industry, safety has always been the top priority. How has your airline adapted to the changed working environment and what measures have been put in place?
Safety has always been the top priority indeed. We at UIA take this extremely seriously – ever since introduction of quarantine measures, we have been tracking all updates and recommendations by worldwide organisations such as WHO, IATA, EASA, ECDC, etc. This also includes updates made by national organisations - Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine.
Prior to operating its flights UIA carries out an individual assessment of risks taking into account the following data: confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the destination (location of the arrival airport); recommendations of authorised state bodies of Ukraine and the country of destination; number of passengers on a given flight; the duration of the flight. If the risk level is high, UIA will not fly.
We equipped cabin crew with protective masks, gloves, goggles and protective suits as soon as pandemic has started. As for passengers, we introduced a range of measures:
You can find additional information on our safety and sanitary measures on our website.
How does, in terms of health safety, travelling by plane differ from other modes of transportation?
Well, travelling by plane is different by default. Naturally, health safety measures will differ compared to other means of transportation due to baseline specifics, such as planes being hermetically sealed during an entire flight.
All UIA aircraft are equipped with highly efficient HEPA filters which capture and destroy 99,9% of micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. The system of vertical sectional air recirculation, passenger placement not "face to face" and the direction of airflow from the ceiling to the floor, which reduces the movement of air back and forth, prevent the spread of viruses in the cabin. Complete air renewal inside the cabin happens approximately every 2-3 minutes, about 20-30 times per hour, ensuring maximum cleanliness and high air quality.
And of course, we do our best to make travelling with UIA safe.
Before Covid appeared on the scenery, we were used to booking trips for the longer term, for example, six months in advance. But due to the abundance of different travel regulations among countries, planning a trip became far more challenging. Could you tell us how your booking process has changed since, and what measures have you put in place for people to feel more confident while purchasing a flight ticket?
With covid entire world became even more unpredictable than before. Due to massive cancellation of flights in 2020 we introduced several refund options, which can be used for future flights as well in case flights are cancelled.
A passenger may obtain a promo code online - exchange an unused ticket (its unused coupon) or an unused additional service for a promo code with an additional 25% bonus. The promo code can be used to pay for a new ticket, including fare and taxes or an additional service on any UIA scheduled flight in any class of service. The promo code can be used on the UIA website during 2 years from the date of its issuing.
It is also possible to make a free change date of a travel and rebook tickets for UIA flights to the same destination during the ticket validity. Although, if new travel dates coincide with the high season periods, in case the original fare is not available the changes are possible with the payment for fare difference.
Lastly, a passenger also may send us a claim through our website to refund an unused ticket.
There is this saying in aviation that no matter the weather, the sun always shines above the clouds. How does your airline see air travel in the upcoming Summer of 2021?
It has been slightly more than a year since we all learned to live in a post-covid world. Right now, summer of 2021 looks promising to UIA – we are opening new destinations and increasing frequency on other routes, connecting Ukraine with numerous countries.
For example, we are launching flights from Odesa to Vilnius starting from June 13, as well as from Lviv and Kharkiv to Tel Aviv starting from June 20. Other destinations with departure from Kyiv-Boryspil include multitude of cities, like Ankara, Rome, Warsaw, Nice, Larnaca, Athens, Barcelona, Batumi, Tashkent, Chisinau.
We are also increasing frequency on the most popular routes. For instance, up to 10 frequencies a week from Kyiv to London, 21 frequencies a week from Kyiv to Istanbul and 14 frequencies a week from Kyiv to Tel Aviv.
We closely monitor current situation in the world, news regarding border openings, and try to resume our original route network, as well as add new destinations as soon as possible.
Finally, what would be your message to your current and future passengers?
I want to thank all passengers for cooperation and understanding of the situation we found ourselves in. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for complying with all quarantine measures.
Don‘t ever lose hope. Despite all the hardships, the sun always rises, and our current covid life will come to an end eventually. We will be back to borderless travelling soon enough. The stricter we adhere to quarantine measures, the sooner we return to pre-covid world tomorrow and the faster we leave the current situation behind.
Stay safe and fly healthy!