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  • Airlines Sell Tickets for International Flights Starting May 23
  • Kyiv Restaurants Open Half Way Today
  • Central Bank: Don’t Print Money to Cover Budget Deficit
  • Grain Exports up 18%
  • Misha Roars

Ukraine will reconnect with the world on Saturday, May 23 with three major airlines posting flights to a long list of destinations from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Odesa and Zaporizhia. SkyUp, Wizz Air, and UIA have posted schedules and are selling tickets for May 23, the latest end date for the quarantine. Czech re-starts on May 24 with flights from Prague to Kyiv and on May 25 with flights from Prague to Odesa. Lufthansa resumes flights to Kyiv on June 1.

Two months ago, on March 14, the Cabinet of Minister banned non-resident foreigners from entering Ukraine. As recently as last week, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba talked about the resumption of international flights in late summer or September. It is unclear how the government will react to the airlines’ moves to restore flights.

On Wednesday, Bulgaria opens hotels and lifts its ban on tourist trips around the country. Turkey starts its tourism season on May 24, the day after the end of Ramadan. Ukraine has not made public a timetable for reopening to foreign tourism. Measured for population, Ukraine has a lower Covid death rate than its two Black Sea neighbors. Turkey’s rate is 44 deaths/million inhabitants. Bulgaria’s rate is 13/million. Ukraine is 10.5/million.

Ukraine’s Covid-19 two month death toll is 391. For the last week, an average of 15 people have died from Covid-19 complications. Over the last week, the number of daily polymerase chain reaction tests doubled, to 9,296. However, the number laboratory proven positive cases has held roughly steady, averaging 474 a day.

Starting yesterday and today, Kyiv cafes and restaurants are to start opening summer sidewalk terraces. Patrons are to read posted menus and order through a window to masked restaurant staff standing 1.5 meters away. Tables are to be spaced 1.5 meters apart, with only two patrons per table. Patrons do not have to wear masks while they eat.


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Barbers and beauty salons also open by appointment only. Chairs are to be spaced three meters apart and attendants are to wear masks and gloves. Customers are to be masked and are to wait outside, spaced 1.5 meters apart. Due to congestion, the Kyiv Metro will open in the final stage of lifting the quarantine, probably in June-July, Viktor Lyashko, Ukraine’s chief state sanitary doctor, tells RBC-Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the Rada will adopt the ‘anti-Kolomoisky’ banking bill, predicts Oleksandr Korniyenko, first deputy head of the Servant of the People faction. “There are enough votes in the session hall for the banking law,” he told Inter TV channel Friday night. Designed to block Ihor Kolomoisky from winning back PrivatBank, the law is key to reaching a deal with the IMF.

An IMF deal, not printing money, is the way to handle the upsurge in government spending to ease pain caused by coronavirus curbs, Yakiv Smolii, governor of the National Bank of Ukraine told the Rada’s Committee on Finance, Tax and Customs Policy. “The medicine should not be worse than the disease” warned the central bank chief. “Remember Ukrainian history. The uncontrolled printing of money to finance government spending has always ended in disastrous consequences for the economy. Of course, you can make everyone millionaires, but these millions will not be worth anything.”

Last year, the central bank lifted about 40 restrictions on the foreign exchange market. “The NBU has accelerated towards full currency liberalization,” the National Bank of Ukraine said in a report on last year posted on its website.

The Naftogaz supervisory board has appointed Otto A. Waterlander as Chief Operating Officer, while retaining his current position as Naftogaz group Chief Transformation Officer. A native of Holland, Waterlander worked for Royal Dutch Shell in 1990s, then the energy practice at Booz Allen Hamilton. Before joining Naftogaz in January, he was a senior partner at McKinsey & Company where he co-led the global oil and gas practice. Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev said: “Otto Waterlander intensified and practically relaunched the transformation process at Naftogaz group when he joined our team. He clearly proved that global corporate solutions and standards can and should work in a Ukrainian state-owned company.”

Ukraine’ grain exports has hit 51.5 million tons, up 18% y-o-y. With the marketing year to end in six weeks, Ukraine is expected to export a record 54 million tons, Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture. Export levels of the top grains are: corn – 27 million; wheat 19 million tons; rye – 8 million tons; and barley 4.7 million tons.

Across Ukraine, the sowing of spring wheat, barley, oats, peas and sugar beets has completed. On the 13.3 million hectares, the share of corn and sunflower increased. Barley, soy and sugar beets decreased. Rains last week eased drought conditions in much of northern Ukraine, reports Ukrhydrometcenter, the national weather service.

Mikheil Saakashvili promises to breathe new life into President Zelenskiy’s flagging free market drive. In a series of interviews since his appointment Thursday to lead a presidential reform committee, Saakashvili is demanding aggressive de-regulation.

The first thing to do to help the economy is to make businesses free, free from administrative intervention, said Saakashvili who devoted his initial years as president of Georgia to slashing red tape. Speaking on ‘Snidanok z 1+1 (Breakfast with 1+1), he said: “There are many regulations they need to be freed from, and the main word is ‘freedom.’”

“Ukraine needs to stop stagnating,” he writes on Facebook. Referring to politicians who sought to block his appointment, he says: “Most of the people who tried to talk him out of it are those who want Ukraine to maintain the status quo, but status quo is stagnation.”

“With the challenge of imminent, huge crisis… there might be no other option but fast reforms and changes,” he tells Reuters, referring to the global recession caused by coronavirus restrictions. “Because we are dealing with a situation when Ukraine either changes or disappears as we know it.” Referring to post-Independence governments, he said: “We created some ugly post-Soviet structure that is more or less, in many ways, more corrupt than the Soviet Union ever was. And that’s the system that is killing Ukraine.”

“The main thing that Ukraine needs is freedom,” he tells Savik Shuster’s Freedom of Speech TV show. “Freedom from the whole army of people who have been drinking the blood of enterprising Ukrainians for the last 25-30 years. Freedom from unreasonable regulations they have imposed on business, freedom from unfair taxes, freedom from absolutely stupid customs regulations, freedom from customs brokers.”

 

  • IMF Switches to Express Delivery
  • Reserves Rise as Repayments Loom
  • Saakashvili Wins Ceremonial Post As Criminal Probes Start Against Three Reformers
  • IKEA Prepares to Start Online Sales in Ukraine
  • China-EU Freight Trains Jump 46%
  • UIA Posts International Flight Schedule – Starting May 23

More money with faster delivery to Ukraine is the goal behind the IMF’s announcement of a switch to negotiating an 18-month ‘Standby’ deal, instead of a 3-year Extended Fund Facility. It’s easier to get $5 billion from the IMF in 2020-21 under the stand-by program than under the EFF program,” Vladyslav Rashkovan Ukraine’s representative to the IMF wrote on Facebook. “The EFF program…does not require “titanic” efforts to promote structural reforms.” A Standby deal would also unlock additional promised macro-financial aid to Ukraine:  €500 million from the EU; and up to $1 billion from the World Bank.

In Washington, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said talks with Ukraine switched tracks because of “the unprecedented uncertainty surrounding the economic and financial outlook, and the need to focus policy priorities on near-term containment and stabilization.” Looking beyond the severe recession caused by government responses to the coronaviruses, he said: “When a recovery is in place, the focus could shift back to addressing Ukraine’s longer-term structural reform needs to foster stronger and more inclusive growth.”

With Ukraine closed to international travel, talks are conducted “virtually.” The Finance Ministry said last night: “The government plans to finalize negotiations with the IMF next week.” From the Rada, Davyd Arakhamia, leader of Servant of the People faction, said the big stumbling block to an IMF deal – the ‘anti-Kolomoisky’ banking bill – would be put up to a vote at a special parliamentary session next Wednesday.

With the change in strategy comes a new IMF team leader for Ukraine. Last Friday, Ivanna Vladkova-Hollar, a Bulgarian economist with IMF experience in Moldova and North Macedonia, succeeded Ron van Rooden as the Washington-based leader. Van Rooden, a Dutch economist, had led IMF talks with Ukraine since 2015. The Zelenskiy government has been in talks with the IMF since September.

Ukraine’s international reserves grew by 3% in April, hitting $25.7 billion, reports the National Bank of Ukraine. In March, as investors reacted to the coronavirus economic downturn, reserves dropped by 7.8%. In April, the central bank’s net purchase of foreign currency amounted to $679 million. All month, the exchange rate hovered around 27 hryvnia to the dollar. Ukraine now has enough money to cover 4.5 months of future imports, well within IMF guidelines.

Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko calculates that Ukraine’s foreign currency debt repayments this month will total $1.6 billion. She writes: “In May, Ukraine’s outlays in foreign currency will be high…With all the ins and outs, reserves are likely to lose around 3% in May.” 

Mikheil Saakashvili was appointed yesterday to head a newly-created Executive Reform Committee, a presidential advisory body, according to a decree on President Zelenskiy’s web site. Oleksandr Olshansky, president of Internet Invest Group Holding, was appointed as Saakashvili’s deputy. In press interviews, Saakashvili has said his job will be to advance free market deregulation. It is unclear how real power he will have. His nomination to be a deputy prime minister for reforms was blocked by Rada deputies close to oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

Criminal investigations now are underway against three Western-supported reformers ousted in recent weeks from key posts. Agents of the State Security Service, or SBU, searched the apartment of Serhiy Verlanov, who was ousted two weeks ago as head of the new Tax Service. Separately, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, or NABU, have started a pre-trial investigation against Maksym Nefyodov, former head of the new Customs Service. Finally, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office told RFE/RL on Tuesday that it has opened “criminal proceedings” against Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who was ousted in early March as Prosecutor General. According to anti-corruption activists in Kyiv, all three men had cut off corrupt cash flows, triggering reprisals.

Free charter flights to Poland are being organized for Ukrainian workers by Evgeny Kirichenko, owner of Gremi Personal employment agency. “We are receiving a huge number of requests from Polish companies for labor from Ukraine,” he told Interfax-Ukraine. “Our workers who temporarily left for Ukraine after closing the borders want to go back, but they cannot because of the difficulties with crossing the land border. We also receive numerous requests for vacancies from Ukrainians who are looking for work in Poland.” Under new rules, Ukrainians can take the flights if they have work contracts, work visas and health insurance.

Skipping bricks for clicks, IKEA plans to launch online sales in Ukraine “in the next few days,” Florian Melle, Ukraine director of the furniture and home good retailer, tells Interfax-Ukraine. Ukraine’s first IKEA store was to open six months ago in Kyiv’s Ocean Mall, next to Ocean Plaza. But completion of the shopping center is behind schedule. Melle said yesterday:Now we are doing everything possible in the next few days to officially launch online sales in Ukraine.”

The number of China-EU freight trains were up 46% in April y-o-y, to a record 979, reports Gudok.ru, a Moscow-based rail news site. With a 90-container train entering the EU every 45 minutes, Ukrzaliznytsia would like to get more trains to diagonally cross Ukraine, bound for Central Europe and the Balkans. Russian Railways blocks most of this traffic, preferring to route trains through Belarus and into Poland.

Last week, most trains resumed across Belgium, including international trains to Holland, France and Luxembourg. Passengers and railroad employees wear face masks. In Ukraine, officials have made vague and contradictory predictions as to when rail traffic will resume. Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy told ObozrevatelTV the sequence will be: suburban, long-distance and then international. “This applies to absolutely all types of transportation – road, rail and air,” he said, adding that international travel depends on quarantine restrictions in destination countries.

Eleron, Ukraine’s expanding cargo airline, starts service Sunday between Lviv and Tel Aviv. Since mid-March, Eleron has started regular cargo flights from its Lviv hub to Nuremberg, Riga, Stockholm. Later this month, it will add Bratislava and Vienna.

 

  • Subways Start Next Week in Kharkiv and Dnipro
  • Reuters Poll: GDP Shrinks 10.9% This Quarter
  • Ukraine’s Post-Corona Target: Asia
  • Summer Vacation 2020: Rent a Dacha or Travel Domestic

Kharkiv and Dnipro’s underground Metro rail systems are to reopen Tuesday. “On May 12, we want to launch the metro in Kharkiv,” says Gennady Kernes, mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.  “No metro was closed in any country in the world – even in Italy and Spain, the metro worked,” he tells Strana.ua. “We are ready to let a limited number of people into the cars so that there is no crush.” Kernes says he has tried to talk directly with Prime Minister Shmyhal: “But I can’t get through to him. For a week now. He hasn’t answered the phone.”

Faced with Kernes and Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov vowing local easings of the national quarantine, Shmyhal announced yesterday after a Cabinet of Ministers meeting: “Every local government should adapt and reasonably approach the provision of public transport in cities.”

Kyiv’s metro will only open in mid-summer, predicts Mayor Vitali Klitschko. To help more people get to work, he promises to put more buses, trams and trolleybuses on the streets. The current mass transit quarantine permit system is used by only 40,000 essential workers a day. The daily ridership each of Ukraine’s three underground Metro systems is: Kyiv – 1.3 million; Kharkiv – 600,000; and Dnipro – 20,000.

Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 10.9% during this quarter, according to Reuters monthly poll of 11 analysts released yesterday. This consensus number tracks last week’s central bank forecast of an 11% GDP drop for April-June. The Reuters analysts estimated that the economy shrank in Q1 by 1%. The first half of 2020 is shaping up as the worst in five years. In the bleak war months of 2015, the GDP fell 16% in Q1 and by 14% in Q2.

Freight traffic on the Dnipro fell 4% y-o-y through May 1. After a strong January and February, a weak April pulled the 4-month volume down to 1.9 million tons. Metals were down 13% and grains were down 19%, according to the state River Information Service. Building materials jumped by 20% and oil products by 7%. Reflecting the use of larger boats on the river, the number of shipping trips decreased by 15%, to 1,694.

Mikheil Saakashvili tells Deutsche Welle that President Zelenskiy is to appoint him chairman of a newly reconstituted National Reforms Council. During the Poroshenko presidency this strategic planning and implementation body met six times a year. It has yet to meet under Zelenskiy. Two weeks ago, Saakashvhili, former president of George and later governor of Odesa Oblast, met with Rada members of the Servant of the People party. However, he failed to win enough support for post that would require Rada approval.

Foreign companies complain that their VAT refunds are switching from automatic to ‘manual’ mode, Atlantic Council economist Anders Aslund told a ‘Moving Ukraine Forward’ webinar hosted by the U.S.- Ukraine Business Council. Predicting this would create problems with the IMF, Aslund noted automatic VAT refunds were a major anti-corruption achievement of the Poroshenko administration. He attributed the resurgence of ‘manual handling’ to the recent leadership changes at the Finance Ministry and Tax Service.

Fitch Ratings, following the sovereign ratings, has revised its outlook for long-term issuer default ratings of Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, and Odesa in foreign and national currency, from “positive” to “stable.” Fitch affirmed all the ratings at “B.”

Asia should be a major focus of Ukraine’s foreign policy in the 2020s, a high growth direction for trade and investment, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba writes in The Diplomat. “We must establish an East-West Road that is a two-way street and runs through Ukraine,” he writes in the Washington-based, Asia-focused website. “I agree with the notion that the 20th century was the European one, while the 21st is the Asian century. It is time to develop a global hub for production and a seamless transportation of goods and services that can take advantage of Ukraine’s skilled and competitive labor, location, and connectivity.” Without detouring from Ukraine’s growing integration with the EU, he writes: “[With Asia} there’s an immense untapped potential for further development of bilateral trade, joint projects in hi-tech fields, or in infrastructure.”

After coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, President Zelensky will do ‘an Asian tour,’ Ihor Zhovka, deputy presidential chief of staff said. Calling Asia “a priority area of international relations,” he cited the big three: China, India and Japan.

With China lifting its coronavirus lockdown and restoring international flights, Ukraine should move fast to attract Chinese tourists who want a taste of Europe, Mariyana Oleskiv, head of Ukraine’s new Tourism Development Agency, tells Interfax-Ukraine. “I hope that Ukraine and China will be able to open each other faster than with EU countries,” she says, noting the EU bars tourists from non-EU nations. “It’s important not to lose this moment and be able to attract Chinese tourists.” Before the coronavirus pandemic, a Chinese airline was studying starting flights between China and Ukraine.

Ukraine does not plan to restore international air travel this summer, Foreign Minister Kuleba tells TSN’s Breakfast with 1+1. “No full-fledged resumption of international air traffic is expected this summer — for sure it won’t be the case as it used to be.” Turning to air travel inside Ukraine, about 10% of the air market, he said: “We’ll very cautiously try to relaunch domestic flights this summer.” As for international bus trips, which tend to be longer and more crowded than flights, he said they would be restored as soon as Ukraine’s entry ban on foreigners are lifted.

Turkey plans to start its key summer tourism this year on schedule, on May 24, announces the nation’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. To allay fears of the coronavirus, hotel buffets will be cancelled, restaurant tables will be widely spaced and beach chairs will be reduced. Last year, 1.5 million Ukrainians flew across the Black Sea to vacation in Turkey, the equivalent of 4% of Ukraine’s population.

 

  • Corona Lockdown to Fully End in July
  • Green Tariff Wrangle Gets a Political Referee
  • Nova Poshta Profit up 73%
  • New Car Sales Dropped in Half Last Month
  • Odesa Wins a Border Crossing With the EU

Ukraine’s coronavirus will be gradually phased out over the next two months, ending completely in mid-July, Prime Minister Shmyhal predicted yesterday on Ukrainian Radio. Noting that the World Health Organization is extending the “worldwide lockdown regime” for two months, Shmyhal said: “The Cabinet of Ministers has so far extended the lockdown until May 22 at the first stage, but based on WHO data, the lockdown will most likely be extended in the future with subsequent stages of relaxation.”

A series of services open under special conditions opened last week: barbershops and beauty salons by appointment only and with masks; outdoor restaurant terraces with tables spaced 1.5 meters apart; and parks, with visitors limited to trios. Kyiv expects five traditional food markets to open today. However, the annual May 31 Kyiv Day events, including the run under the chestnuts, are canceled.

The sequence of re-opening rail transit may be: Intercity – early June; suburban electric trains – mid-June; and metro late June/early July.

The number of registered unemployed on Monday was 48% higher than the same time last year, reports the State Employment Center. The number of officially jobless is now 456,800. At the same time, the number of vacancies has dropped to 53,000, 60% below last year. With informally employed people unable to register as unemployed, the real number is believed to be far higher. To help the unemployed, the government has started a low interest rate loan program for small companies, has decided to allow Ukrainians to go to the EU to work, and has raised unemployment assistance, to a little over $1 a day.

President Zelenskiy’s project to create a state airline based on Antonov is analyzed in a piece by Anna Peshkova for 112.Ukraine. Although Antonov makes reliable regional passenger jets and turboprops, she writes: “You can’t earn much on domestic transportation. The share of domestic traffic for Ukrainian airlines is only about 10%. The capacity of the local market is not enough to recoup the costs of the development and production of the aircraft.” In light of the overnight popularity of Antonov cargo planes ferrying medical gear from China, she concludes: “A number of experts suggest that the president switch his attention from passenger to cargo transportation.”

Renewable energy investors and government representative should conclude “with a week” a draft memorandum on ‘green tariffs’ for submission to Prime Minister Shmyhal. Signaling that, after nine months, the government is putting political weight behind the search for a solution, Acting Energy and Environment Minister Olha Buslavets said the goal is to “conclude a memorandum and agree on a voluntary basis, without arbitration, on indicators, maintaining the normal image of an attractive investment climate for the state.”

At the same time, eight foreign ambassadors issued a letter expressing disappointment with the long-running impasse over solar and wind tariffs. A number of Ukrainian renewable energy projects were provided with export credit guarantees provided by foreign governments,” says the letter signed by the ambassadors of Belgium Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, South Korea and Sweden. “We cannot exclude the possibility that any unilateral cancellation of legal guarantees by Ukraine may lead to the fact that in the future the provision of state credit guarantees will be carried out with a large unwillingness.”

Solar and wind energy now account for 8% of the nation’s electricity, but 26% of the power bill, says Dmitry Kovalenko, a member of the National Commission for Regulation of Energy and Utilities. After growing by 11.6% last year, green generation hits 7.2 GW last week. Next month, another 1 GW of capacity is to be commissioned. Energy Minister Buslavets predicts that by the end of this year the government’s unpaid renewable power bill will hit $1 billion.

Nova Poshta’s net profit grew 73% last year, hitting $29 million, the company reports. Deliveries were up 22%, boosting revenue to nearly $500 million. The company is undergoing an ambitious $100 million investment program, largely to build sorting centers with state of the art European technology.

The Finance Ministry last Tuesday auctioned off $371 million worth of 3-month government bonds with an average weighted yield of 11.26%. Prior to this weekly auction, the government sold from January through April bonds worth: €300 million, $1.2 billion and the hryvnia equivalent of $1.6 billion.

New car sales dropped in half in April, compared to April last year. New car registrations totaled 3,700, according to UkrAvtoProm, the vehicle association. By comparison, April sales in some European countries were down 80-90%. In Ukraine, coronavirus curbs spoiled a strong start to the year. Prior to March, experts forecast a 25% growth in new car sales, to over 100,000.

RegioJet, the private Czech rail and bus operator, has bought nine sleeping cars from German’s Deutsche Bahn, aiming to start service between Prague and Lviv in December. Initially, trains will stop 10 km east of Poland, in Mostyska, reports the Center for Transportation Strategies. After Ukrzaliznytsia completes construction of European gauge rail to Lviv City, possibly this December, trains will go all the way from Prague to Lviv, about 850 km.

At the end of May, Odesa Region gains its first international border post with the EU: a cross-Danube ferry linking Orlivka with Isaccea, Romania. Five years and €12 million euros in the making, the new binational ferry link and terminals will cut out the current 2-hour, 100 km detour through Moldova’s southernmost tip.  Tested last fall with ferries crossing this 900-meter section of the lower Danube, the ferry crossing takes 15 minutes and has the daily capacity to carry 200 trucks, 500 cars, and 1,500 people, reports Pasazhirskii Transport, an Odesa-based news site.

Socar, the Azeri state oil company, will build a transport hub – for cars, buses, trucks and trains – at the Chonhar control point near Ukraine’s administrative line with Russia-controlled Crimea. Executives of Socar’s Ukraine unit, Ukrzaliznytsia, Kherson Region and the relevant Ukrainian ministries signed an agreement Tuesday. Expanding a basic control point built last fall, the expanded transport hub would offer passport control, a restaurant, pharmacy, ATM machines, gas station and a passenger terminal for buses and trains north to Melitopol and on to Kyiv. Prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, most trains to the peninsula passed through Chonhar.

 

  • Uber Eats to Pull Out
  • Pipeline to Bring Norwegian Gas to Poland
  • Wizz Air Sees $100 Million Investment to Develop Lviv Air Hub

With the expected return of patrons to restaurants next month, Uber Eats will cease food delivery operations in Ukraine on June 3, Reuters reports. The Ukraine shutdown is part of shutdowns in seven other countries: Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and United Arab Emirates. These countries did not see the growth needed to meet the company’s goal of becoming the number one or number two online food delivery operator. Uber Eats operates in Kyiv and five other Ukrainian cities, delivering food from 1,500 restaurants. Uber taxi service is to continue unchanged.

The central bank’s business confidence index in April was 42% below the February pre-crisis level. The Business Expectation Index was 29.9 points, far below the neutral level of 50. In February, this index maintained by the National Bank of Ukraine was at 51.2 points. Construction was one of the most pessimistic sectors, garnering a 24.5 point rating.

Poland has signed a €280 million contract with an Italian company, Saipem Ltd., to complete a 275 km missing link on the Baltic Pipe, bringing gas from the Norwegian Sea to Poland. This summer, work is to start on the Polish and Danish coasts. The full 900 km, €1.5 billion pipeline is to be operational Oct. 1, 2022, coinciding with the end of Poland’s gas contract with Russia’s Gazprom.

The pipeline is to bring 10 billion cubic meters a year to Poland, more than the country needs. To guarantee supplies to the pipe, Polish state-owned company PGNiG has acquired shares in 25 mining licenses on Norway’s continental shelf. Poland aims to become a “gas hub for this part of Europe,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said in Warsaw. Noting onshore pipeline links with Ukraine, he said: “It is very important that Poland becomes one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s energy security, which, as we know, has been under Russia’s gas and energy blackmail for many years.”

Russia is shipping 28% less gas through Ukraine’s pipelines than contracted, but is paying fully for booked capacity, reports Ukraine’s pipeline operator. From January to April, Gazprom shipped 15.5 billion cubic meters through Ukraine. Under the five-year contract signed last Dec. 29, Gazprom commits to pay transmission fees for shipping 65 billion cubic meters this year. Starting next year, the contracted volume falls 40 billion cubic meters.

After a 6-week break, Poland’s embassy and consulates in Ukraine resumed processing work visas. For now, only visa applications for farm workers and truck drivers are being processed. Poland also has restarted its e-konsulat online visa application system. Poland has six consulate generals in Ukraine: Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lutsk, Lviv, Odesa and Vinnytsia.

Wizz Air plans to invest $100 million to develop its new base in Lviv, George Michalopoulos, chief commercial officer of the Budapest-based carrier, told Ukrainian journalists Monday. After opening on July 1 with a new Airbus A320 serving seven new routes, the base will add new aircraft in the 2020s. “We understand that the next 2-3 months will be a little fuzzy,” he said referring to the evolution of the Covid pandemic. “But our cooperation with Ukraine is not 2-3 months, we are talking about years of cooperation, and we will continue to expand our activities in this market.”

Kyiv Sikorsky airport is asking the government for a $1 million a month grant, to pay salaries and to maintain the airport. Kyiv’s city airport, also known as Zhuliany, has been closed since mid-March. Last year, 98% of Sikorsky’s 2.6 million passengers flew internationally, largely with Wizz Air. Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy has said that the first scheduled air flights to resume will be domestic.

Flights in Ukraine in April were 90% below the level of April last year reports UkSATSE, the air traffic control agency. Of 2,372 flights, about half were transit, or flyovers. Of the rest, 559 were domestic, 607 were international. Similarly, Eurocontrol, the Brussels based regional air traffic control coordinator, says European air traffic in April was down 88% y-o-y.

The original English version is from our partner UBN – Ukraine Business News. For more information and news archive, go to: www.ubn.news.

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