Kyiv as one of the largest regional air hubs

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Oleg Vitkovskyi's picture

Nowadays when experts are talking about the drivers of the Ukrainian economy they mainly mention agriculture and IT. However, there are also other sectors that Ukraine can develop in order to strengthen its economy. In this article we are focusing on the transportation sector and, in particular, on the benefits of transforming Kyiv Boryspil airport into one of the largest regional air hubs.

So what are the advantages that Kyiv has over other regional air hubs, and what are the direct immediate benefits it can bring to the local economy?

There are three main reasons why we believe Boryspil can become a regional air hub. The main reason is geographical proximity of Ukraine to all major economic centers in Europe and Asia (figure 1). To illustrate this advantage let’s look at three alternative ways of travelling from Beijing to London – with stops in Dubai, Istanbul (top choices at popular air travel planning website Skyscanner), and Kyiv. According to The Travel Math web-site, the average distance of the flight Beijing-Istanbul-London is almost 1000 km longer than Beijing-Kyiv-London. Compared to Beijing-Dubai-London, the advantage of Kyiv is even more visible – the total route through Kyiv is 2700 km shorter.

Figure 1. Average flight time (for direct flights) from Kyiv to selected cities in the world.

Sources: www.travelmath.com, www.pilot.ua

The second reason is a huge transit potential of the Boryspil airport. In 2014 Boryspil accommodated only 6.9 million passengers. For comparison, Istanbul Ataturk airport, which is just 2 hours flight from Kyiv and has relatively similar geographical location, handled 57 million passengers in 2014. By passenger flow, Boryspil is also well behind all other major Eastern European airports. Speaking specifically of the transit potential, in 2014 only about 6% of total passengers at Boryspil carried by the major carrier were transit passengers, while at Frankfurt this figure was 53%, at Schiphol - 42% and at Heathrow - 35%.

According to the Boryspil airport information, variable cost which depends on the number of accommodated passengers, constitute only 3% in its cost structure. So increase in the number of transit passengers is a “net profit” for the airport as total costs virtually remain the same.

Also, if we compare Boryspil ratio of handled passengers to the population of the Kyiv city to other Eastern European airports and cities, such as Vlacval Haval Airport and Prague, Frederic Chopin Airport and Warsaw and Liszt Ferenc Airport and Budapest we will see how far is Kyiv behind. This ratio (as for 2014) for Vlacval Haval is 8.5, for Frederic Chopin - 6.1, for Liszt Ferenc - 5.2, and for Boryspil only 2.4. Even though this indicator is not the perfect one, it shows that Boryspil virtually doesn`t use its potential as a regional air hub.

In addition, as the result of economic downturn in Ukraine and sharp hryvna devaluation, the cost of workforce in Ukraine became the lowest in the Eastern Europe. Also, electricity prices in Ukraine are lower than in the Eastern Europe.[1] So, theoretically, the cost of running airport infrastructure in Boryspil should be considerably lower than in other Eastern European airports.

Table 1. Europe`s busiest airports in 2014

Rank

Country

Airport

City

Passengers, mln.

1

UK

Heathrow

London

73.37

2

France

Charles de Gaulle

Paris

63.81

3

Germany

Frankfurt

Frankfurt

59.57

4

Turkey

Ataturk

Istanbul

56.95

5

Netherlands

Schiphol

Amsterdam

54.98

…11

Russia

Domodedovo Int.

Moscow

33.04

…12

Russia

Sheremetyevo Int.

Moscow

31.57

…38

Czech Republic

Vlacval Haval

Prague

11.15

…41

Poland

Frederic Chopin

Warsaw

10.59

…50

Hungary

Liszt Ferenc Int.

Budapest

9.16

…55

Romania

Henri Coanda Int.

Bucharest

8.32

…62

Ukraine

Boryspil Int.

Kyiv

6.89

 

Source: http://topairlinesrankings.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/top-ranking-100-biggest-airport-in.html

The third factor that goes in favor of our proposal is existing infrastructure and spare capacity. As a part of preparation to the Euro 2012, two terminals were built at Boryspil. Currently out of 5 terminals only one is in use. And even this terminal is used only at about 30% of its capacity.[2] So, even without any additional investment into infrastructure Boryspil can handle at least 3-3.5 times more passengers per year than it does now. If Boryspil can utilize the spare capacity, it can increase the number of passengers up to 21-25 million per annum. 

Now we will look at the potential benefits (the list is not exhaustive):

  • creating new jobs. If the airport works at full capacity, or at least closer to its potential, it will generate new jobs within itself;
  • development of the serving/related industries such as ground services, advertising, transportation to and from the airport;
  • increasing tourism. Increasing passenger flow through the Boryspil airport will inevitably lead to the increase in tourism. Some people will prefer to make a longer stop-over so they can visit the city. Especially it can be the case for passengers travelling from Asia to Europe or North America.

All in all, we affirm that Boryspil has a potential to become a regional air hub. Becoming a hub will boost local economy. If Kyiv wants to secure its place on the regional air map it should act fast because the main competing air hubs are developing too. For instance, the Istanbul Grand Airport company announced the start of construction of a new Istanbul airport with total capacity around 90 million passengers per year at the end of the first stage and up to 150 million passengers when the airport becomes fully operational. The first stage is expected to be completed by late 2017. The busiest Russian airport - Domodedovo - is also rapidly developing and planning to increase its capacity to 60 million passengers by 2023. So, time is playing against the Boryspil airport.

 

[1] Ukraine 2015: Brains, Hands and Grains. Horizon Capital, July, 2015

[2] Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine – www.mtu.gov.ua