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  • Ze Wants Ukraine in the EU
  • Corona Crackdown Coming Down the Tracks
  • Rada Vaccine: Kill Corona With Asphalt
  • Wizz Air Builds Ukraine-Germany Air Links

Russia has reduced harassment of ships bound for Mariupol, Ukraine’s main port on the Azov. In the first five months of this year, cargo handled by this Donetsk region port increased by 23% yoy, more than double the national average. Benefitting from dredging and construction of new grain silos, Mariupol handled 2.7 million tons from January to May, ranking it as Ukraine’s fifth busiest port.

President Zelenskiy says Ukraine wants full membership in the EU. “Eastern Partnership shouldn’t limit the ambitions of its partners,” he tweeted before the video mode summit meeting of heads of EU nations and Eastern Partnership states. Arguing that a common market is not enough, he wrote: “Ukraine seeks full membership in the EU.”

Ukraine’s parliament rejected Prime Minister Shmyhal’s governing program in a vote that strips him of 1-year immunity from being fired. Reflecting President Zelenskiy’s eroding control over his party, the confidence vote was not supported 72 of his deputies – 29% of Servant of the People bloc. The 27-member European Solidarity group, which could have provided the winning margin, voted against. Their leader, former President Poroshenko, missed the vote because he was in court facing a corruption charge. Western diplomats call the case ‘political harassment.’

This week, health authorities may re-impose strict quarantine measures in regions where the coronavirus is spreading at high rates, Ukraine’s Chief Medical Officer Viktor Liashko told reporters last week. Thursday’s numbers showed infections growing fastest in three western regions: Lviv – 171; Zakarpattia –74; and Rivne -73. Liashko said daily hospitalizations have nearly doubled, to 190 Wednesday. About 3% of interned patients die.

Nationwide, a record 829 new cases of infection were detected, according to a daily bulletin. During that 24-hour period, 23 people died, raising the cumulative death toll since March 13 to 966, Health Minister Maksym Stepanov reported. During that period, a record 21,204 tests were performed. Lyashko said the surge in infection does not reflect increased testing, but spreading disregard for government restrictions. He warns that continued disobedience to health rules could cost Ukraine 7,000 lives in the second half of this year.

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Traveling on Kyiv’s metro without a face mask runs the risk of incurring a $634 fine – the equivalent of three years of subway tokens for the average commuter. The stiff fine comes as officials tighten sanitary controls in mass transit.

The Rada overwhelmingly approved – by a 105-vote margin – a bill to divert money from a coronavirus fund to pave roads. Two months ago, the parliament approved a $2.4 billion fund to fight the virus. The bill amends the fund language to use new measures “to overcome the consequences of the pandemic, such as improving transport links, building, reconstruction and repair of public roads of national importance.”

The EBRD is preparing to loan €50 million for repairing and repaving a 400 km north-south road, from Kotovka, Dnipropetrovsk to Melitopol, Zaporizhia. A preliminary agreement was signed by EBRD deputy director in Ukraine Mark Magaletsky and Dnipropetrovsk region head Alexander Bondarenko, EBRD spokesman Anton Usov writes on Facebook.

By mid-summer, Ukravtodor plans to complete repaving of the 120 km north-south road connecting Vasylivka, a Dnipro River port, with Berdyansk, the Sea of Azov resort. This roadwork will allow residents of Zaporizhia to make the 200 km drive to the beach in three hours.

Ecolines resumed bus service last week from Kyiv to Warsaw and Szczecin, Poland. Earlier, the company’s Autolux unit resumed domestic bus service from Kyiv to Odesa, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kropyvnytskyi, Poltava and Zaporizhia. On July 2, LOT Polish resumes flights between Kyiv Boryspil and Warsaw Chopin.

Wizz Air now flies regularly scheduled flights from Kyiv Sikorsky to 15 cities in six European countries. They are: London Luton, Athens, Budapest, Tallinn, Copenhagen and Billund in Denmark, and nine cities in Germany – Berlin Schönefeld, Bremen, Cologne, Dortmund, Hamburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Memmingen, and Nuremberg.

Opening a base in Dortmund, Wizz Air starts flights from Dortmund to Kharkiv on July 4 and to Zaporizhia on Aug. 2. On Aug. 3, Wizz Air starts flights from Dortmund to the northeast Romanian city of Suceava, 90 km from Ukraine’s Chernivtsi. Germany is fast becoming a destination for Ukrainian and Romanian seasonal workers.

Five months after the shootdown of the UIA passenger jet over Tehran, Iran says it will send the black boxes to Ukraine, Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mohammad Eslami tells Tasnim, a news agency close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The UIA flight was shot down Jan. 8 by an Iranian ground-to-air missile, killing 176 people in what Tehran later termed a “disastrous mistake” at a time of tensions with the US. Eslami said reading of the boxes will take place in coordination with the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization, Reuters reports.

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During the first five months of this year – the height of the corona lockdown – Ukraine’s sea ports handled 11% more cargo than during January-May 2019.  Exports were up 10%, to 52 million tons. Imports were up 12%, to 10 million tons, reports the Sea Ports Authority. Grain accounted for 41% of exports. Iron ore was the most dynamic, jumping by 51% to 14 million tons. Five ports accounted for 91% of cargo: Pivdennii port +34% to 26 million tons; Mykolaiv -5% to 12.5 million tons; Odesa + 3% to 10.4 million tons; Chornomorsk – 3% to 10.3 million tons; and Mariupol +23% to 2.7 million tons.

New York-based Argentem Creek Partners LP is investing $75 million in Odesa’s GN Terminals in a bid to push the Ukrainian grain handling and trading company into the nation’s top 10 next year. Moving to strengthen corporate governance and transparency at the privately-owned company, Argentem has installed two independent board directors, Bohdan Chomiak and Oleksiy Pavlenko.

Eight grain silos with a total capacity 117,000 tons and an annual transshipment of 2.5 million tons a year will be built by Specialized Grain Terminal Chornomorsk LLC, reports Agro Portal. The complex for transportation, storage and transshipment will be capable of handling 1,000 tons of grain an hour.

Nibulon has inaugurated its 18th river reloading terminal, a $23 million, 16-silo complex in Mar’yans’ke, a right bank Dnipro river town in Dnipropetrovsk region. With equipment from Italy, Spain, Germany, and Great Britain, the terminal was partly funded by the EBRD and European Investment Bank. At the opening last Friday, Nibulon CEO Alexei Vadatursky said of his company’s shipbuilding and river transport investments: “As a result, the rivers are working, and tens of thousands of trucks are not driving Ukrainian roads.”

Rada approval of the government’s Inland Water Transport bill would set the stage for quadrupling river cargo during the 2020s, to 45 million tons a year, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy promises on Facebook. Attending the Nibulon river terminal inauguration, Krykliy wrote: “1 million tons of cargo transported by the river saves about UAH 1 billion for 4 years on road repair.” Last year, the Dnipro carried almost 12 billion tons of cargo. Parliament is expected to vote on the bill before going in July on its summer break.

Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company wants to raise up to €200 million by 2025 to modernize its Soviet-era cargo and passenger fleet, Oleksiy Khomiakov, acting board chairman of the Izmail-based company, tells Interfax-Ukraine. He said the state company is negotiating with institutional investors interested in buying modern, environmentally friendly barges, tugs and cruise ships. In recent years, Chinese companies have express interested in investing in the shipping company, which plies 2,000 km of Danube waters, from the Black Sea to southern Germany.

Nova Poshta Global is doubling its frequency of Kyiv-Beijing-Kyiv cargo flights to twice a week. “Now the Chinese direction is one of the most promising in international trade,” the delivery company’s press service reports. “In May, we delivered almost 2.5 times more orders from Chinese online stores than in April.”

Containerized rail cargo is up by 17% yoy through May, reports Ukrzaliznytsia. With about 32 scheduled container trains now running, largely from the Black Sea ports, the state railroad moved 185,545 containers January through May.

After a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kyiv’s state-owned Dnipro Hotel is to be sold at auctioned July 15. Bids start at $3 million. The 12-story hotel overlooks European Square and the Dnipro River, and has 186 rooms, restaurants and conference halls. Among the requirements are to keep the name and to maintain hotel at four stars or higher, stipulates the State Property Fund.

Moody’s has upgraded its credit assessments of six Ukrainian banks: PrivatBank, Oschadbank, Ukreximbank, Raiffeisen Bank Aval, Sberbank and Pivdenny Bank. The move comes after Moody’s upgraded on Friday Ukraine’s sovereign rating to B3. “Given that most Ukrainian banks have substantial reserves of domestic government bonds, their BCAs are limited by the country’s sovereign rating,” Moody’s writes.

The IMF Stand-By program provides Ukraine the country with needed funding, but there is a risk of a serious slowdown of reforms, Fitch ratings agency writes Tuesday. “The key task facing the Zelenskiy administration is to renew its reform powers with potentially growing political costs,” Fitch writes from London. “There is visible resistance to reform from interested circles, including oligarchs, and impressive fragmentation of the presidential party in the Rada and the rapid change of the Cabinet’s key positions influenced the dynamics of reforms, weakened key laws such as agricultural land reform, and risk creating political uncertainty.”

Almost 15 million Ukrainians – about half of the adult population – use 4G mobile services, reports the Digital Transformation Ministry. Another 12 million smartphone owners do not use the high speed service because they have not switched their SIM card to one that supports high-speed Internet. The switch is free.

Ukraine’s broadband Internet ranks second in the world for a combination of speed and low price, according to study by British telecommunications resource Cable.co.uk. In the annual study, Ukraine is sandwiched between Syria (1) and Russia (3). For price, Ukraine has the fifth cheapest mobile Internet – 46 US cents per gigabyte. The four cheaper countries are: India – 9 cents per gigabyte; Israel – 11 cents; Kyrgyzstan – 21 cents; and Italy – 43 cents. The most expensive are British islands: St. Helena $52; Falklands – $40; and Bermuda – $29.

Record Covid-19 deaths and infections prompted the government to extend Ukraine’s ‘adaptive quarantine’ to July 31. Yesterday morning, the Health Ministry gave the latest daily toll: 31 deaths – triple the historic average – and 758 new cases, double the rate of last month. Almost 5,000 new cases were diagnosed over the last week. Prime Minister Shmygal said. “We understand that people are tired of quarantine restrictions, but the coronavirus threat didn’t disappear.”  Under this kind of quarantine, each region can adjust restrictions according to the infection rate. After infection rates grew in Kyiv, the city re-imposed last week the ban on indoor dining.

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “With such disturbing data, we advise anyone doing business in Ukraine to prepare for the possibility that significant restrictions may be re-imposed in the coming days…Plans to allow Ukrainians to travel to the E.U. on July 1 may be derailed as well.”

Ukraine started to reconnect air links with Europe yesterday. Kyiv’s Sikorsky re-opened and Wizz Air sent flights to seven EU cities: Budapest, Copenhagen, Dortmund, London Luton and Memmingen Germany, and Talinn. Wizz Air has one flight to Berlin and Belavia has two flights to Minsk. Flights to Poland and Italy have been postponed until July 1.

From Kyiv Boryspil, flights took off for seven foreign cities, largely special ‘evacuation’ flights. Through June 30, UIA is offering one time flights to and from these cities:  London Heathrow; Bangkok; New York; Istanbul; Amsterdam; Miami, Paris; Athens, Dubai; and Tel Aviv.

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Ukraine’s economy will start to recover this summer and will grow in the fall, Economy Minister Ihor Petrashko predicted at a briefing on the first 100 days of the new cabinet. “We believe the June trend is improving,” he said. “We are seeing the opening of trading establishments, there is a revitalization of processes between the regions. Everything is starting to move more actively.” He cautioned that growth depends on keeping coronavirus at a low level, preventing a return to lockdown measures.

The small business stimulus program, Affordable Loans 5-7-9%, has distributed 639 loans for a total of $15 million since February, the Finance Ministry reports. The average loan size of $23,500 reflects the loan cap of $55,000. Although 16 private and state banks now participate in the program, it is far short of its announced goal of extending 50,000 loans by next February.

Olena Zelenska, wife of the President, is hospitalized with double pneumonia after contracting coronavirus. The hospitalization of Ukraine’s 42-year-old First Lady has refocused national attention on the pandemic. While proven infections are up around 50% in the last week, mortality has remained low. On Monday, 11 people died in Ukraine of coronavirus complications, bringing the three-month total to 912.  Health Minister Maksym Stepanov told reporters yesterday: “We all confused the easing of quarantine with the cancellation of all restrictions.”

Concorde Capital’s Zenon Zawada writes: “The government is well aware of the political consequences of an extended or reimposed severe quarantine and wants to avoid such measures…the E.U. opening its borders as of July 1, an event being eagerly awaited by hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens, depends on reciprocal measures from the Ukrainian government. The government is interested in allowing these people to depart for Europe.”

Last week, 83% of Ukraine’s restaurants are operating again, although many only for takeout or summer veranda service. Sales have returned to 70% of pre-lockdown levels, OpenDataBot report, comparing to early March levels. Restaurants “that survive will most likely be able to reach the indicators of early 2019 no earlier than next year,” Rodion Eroshek, CEO at joinposter.com, a point of sale oriented consultancy for cafes and restaurants.

As of last Monday afternoon 40,314 people in Ukraine are using the ‘Diy Vdoma,’ the self isolation app created to monitor people who test positive for coronavirus or who come from countries with high rates, reports the Digital Transformation Ministry.

One week after the central bank lowered Ukraine’s prime rate from 8% to 6%, the Finance Ministry pushed down yields on short term bonds. At the weekly auction, yields on 3-month bonds fell from 9% to 7.5%. Yields on 6-month bonds fell from 9.5% to 8%. For the first time since February, the Ministry auctioned 2- and 3-year bonds. Yesterday, yields fell back toward the pre-crisis levels of 10%. The 2-year bonds carried 10.6% per annum yields, and the 3-year bonds carried 10.8% per annum yields. The auctions netted $74 million.

A container train left Wuhan, China on Tuesday bound for Kyiv. Ten days from now, another Chinese freight train – the third this month – leaves Nanchang, China for Kyiv. With the 15-18-day service becoming a regular logistics option, Ukrposhta and rival Nova Poshta are negotiating regular freight deliveries by rail. The trains pass through Russia, crossing into Ukraine at the Zernovo-Sorokyne crossing in Sumy Oblast.

Sending cargo by rail from China to Ukraine is 2-3 times more expensive than by ship, but takes one third the time, Valery Tkachev, deputy director of Ukrzaliznytsia’s commercial department, tells the Center for Transportation Strategies. Believing there is niche market for speed, Formag Forwarding, the Kyiv company that organizes the container trains, tells the Transportation news site: “Judging by the demand that has arisen now, trains can run not just weekly. There is enough cargo for a daily train.”

Trains go to China’s border with Mongolia, where the containers are shifted to waiting rolling stock that can travel on Soviet-era broad gauge track. Delivering a 40-foot container from the Chinese border to Kyiv costs $3-3,300. From China, the trains carry high value items – drilling equipment, bicycle parts, furniture, household goods, and personal protective equipment. Now, Formag and Ukrzaliznytsia work to fill containers with goods from Ukraine to China. This year, Ukraine’s exports to China are running at double last year’s levels.

Economic confrontation between China and the United States offers opportunities for Ukrainian exporters in China and for manufacturers in Ukraine, Olga Drobotiuk, director of the Modern China Institute at Kyiv National Economic University, tells Ukrinform. “Developing countries, in particular Ukraine, will be able to strengthen their position in the Chinese market by offering an alternative to imports from the United States. Such countries may also become members of new production chains from the United States or China.”

Poland has re-opened four border crossings for cars and trucks. They are: Krakovets-Korczowa; Rava-Ruska-Hrebenne; Yahodyn-Dorohusk; and Shehyni-Medyk.

Ryanair has started selling tickets for flights from Ukraine to a series of Italian cities, starting July 6. In a schedule designed to last through October, Ryanair will fly from Kyiv Boryspil to Rome Fiumicino, Milan Bergamo, Bologna and Catania; from Lviv and Odesa to Rome, Milan and Bologna, and from Kharkiv to Milan. For now, Italy is on Ukraine’s ‘red list’ of country, meaning that incoming passengers will have to self-isolate for two weeks in Ukraine.

Warning that Ukraine’s aviation industry “may be in danger of extinction,” SkyUp, Azur Air Ukraine, the airports of Lviv and Zaporizhia, and UkSATSE, the air traffic control agency, have written President Zelenskiy and Prime Minster Shmygal, asking for emergency aid: ending VAT on domestic flights, return of 2019 dividend payments to the government, a 30% cut on future dividend payments, and long-term interest-free loans from state-owned banks. The letter says: “Only the state has the necessary levers of influence, resources and the ability to influence the situation prevailing today in the aviation industry.”

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Two weeks in self-isolation awaits all travelers who come to Ukraine from any of 51 countries on the Health Ministry’s new ‘red list’ of countries with coronavirus infection rates higher than Ukraine’s. Key countries are: US, Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Kuwait, Singapore, UAE, Moldova, Belarus and Russia. The ‘green list’ – no self-isolation – includes: Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Turkey Kazakhstan, Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Finland. All visitors to Ukraine must now have health insurance adequate to cover coronavirus treatment.

Updated every three days, the list will influence airline plans to restore air routes with Ukraine. Two weeks in self-isolation is expected to deter foreign visitors. ‘Red list’ countries have worse infection rates than Ukraine’s 37 active cases per 100,000 people. To calculate Ukraine’s rate, the Health Ministry used a national population of 43.7 million people, 17% greater than the 37.3 million ‘assessment’ made public in January by Dmytro Dubilet, then Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Wizz Air plans to re-start flights from Kyiv Sikorsky to 10 countries on the ‘green list’: Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia – and to two countries on the ‘red list’: Britain and Portugal. Belavia started flights between Kyiv and Belarus, a ‘red list’ country. Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy writes on his Telegram channel that this week national airlines start flights between Kyiv Borypsil and three ‘green list’ countries: Lufthansa to Frankfurt; KLM to Amsterdam; and SWISS to Zurich. Also SAS restores service to Oslo and flydubai to Dubai. Sunday, Ryanair stated to fly from Boryspil to Barcelona, Madrid and Krakow.

UIA, Ukraine’s largest carrier, is scheduling only a handful of international flights in coming weeks, waiting for migration rules to clarify and aiming to unveil its new schedule Aug. 1, Evgeny Dykhne, the airline’s president, tells reporters at Boryspil. On June 25, the airline offers a special flight from Miami to Boryspil. Noting that Ukraine’s national flag carrier now competes against European airlines that get big bailouts, he said: “Opening routes, we will proceed from the point of view of how much they will be unprofitable for us. We will exclude the fact that they will start with profit.”

Odesa airport resumes international flights with Belavia flying daily to Minsk and Wizz Air flying twice a week to Berlin and Budapest.

Ukraine’s three checkpoints on the line of control with Crimea – Kalanchak, Chaplynka and Chonhar – re-opened last week. Everyone entering mainland Ukraine has to download the Diy Vdoma location app and self-isolate for two weeks.

With air, rail and bus ties with Poland still cut after three months of quarantine, pedestrian traffic is strong and running 4 to 1 in favor of crossings into Poland. Almost 2,500 Ukrainians are going into Poland through the Medyka crossing every day, compared to 600 coming into Ukraine, UNIAN reports from the border crossing, citing Alexei Havel, a regional official with Ukraine’s Border Service. Last Sunday, Ukrainians, largely migrant workers, faced 10 hour waits as Polish border officials took temperatures and called employers to check work permits.

Setting the stage for greater labor migration, the government now says Ukraine’s GDP could shrink by up to 8% this year. In mid-April, the Economy Ministry based the revised budget on a 4.8% drop. The National Bank of Ukraine forecasts a 6-7% drop. Last week, the IMF forecast an 8.2% drop. The Cabinet of Ministers economic forecast now reads: “Ukraine is traditionally more vulnerable to economic shocks, and therefore can feel a more significant impact: GDP may fall by 4-8% compared with 2019.”

Residential construction fell 56.5% yoy during the first quarter of this year, reports the State Statistics Service. New housing construction fell by 83% in Kyiv city to 184,400 square meters. The fall was so sharp that Lviv surpassed the capital, starting construction of 238,900 square meters.

Overall construction is down by 9% through April. With many wind and solar projects frozen, infrastructure construction is down by 11% yoy through April. ICU writes: “Partially, it will be offset by the expected intensification of “Great Construction” projects, primarily related to the construction and repair of roads and bridges. In general, we expect construction to fall by 12-15% this year.”

Powered by a nearly doubling of Ukraine’s exports to China, Ukraine’s trade in goods with China surged far ahead of Russia during the first four months of this year, reports the State Statistics Service. China-Ukraine trade rose to $4.2 billion. China-Russia trade shrank to $2.4 billion. Ukraine’s imports of goods from Russia dropped by 38% yoy.

With exports holding up during the first half of the lockdown, Ukraine’s trade deficit in goods fell by two thirds yoy, to $674 million. Through April, Ukraine’s exports were at 98.3% of the January-April level of 2019. But imports fell to 91% of last year’s level.

ICU writes: External accounts proved resistant to the corona crisis. Due to falling prices for oil and natural gas, as well as domestic demand contraction, a sizable current account surplus was created in 4M20. We expect the surplus will amount to around 1% of GDP for the full year.”

With the cost of imported oil and gas falling by 51% yoy in May, the trend of falling imports continues. Through May, imports are down 13% yoy, to $18.3 billion, reports Ukraine’s Customs Service. For consumers, prices of gasoline and diesel were down 27-28% in May yoy, reports the State Statistics Service.

LSE-listed Ferrexpo increased sales of iron pellets from its Ukrainian mines by 21% through May yoy. Ferrexpo increased sales in Asia and took advantage of lower freight rates during the corona crisis, the company reported to the London Stock Exchange. In April produced a record 1 million tons of pellets from its own ore. Pellets are used as raw material in blast furnaces for making steel.

In a key government victory in the battle over PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender, Ukraine’s Supreme Court ruled that the bank does not have to pay back $37 million to two brothers who lost money due to the 2016 nationalization. The bank argued that the two men, Hryhoriy and Ihor Surkis, had close commercial dealings with the bank’s previous owners, calling them related parties.

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Albania, Turkey and the United States allow unlimited arrivals from Ukraine. For now, Turkey requires Covid-19 testing on arrival. The EU has closed its border to most visitors from outside the Schengen Zone until July 1. Germany advises its citizen to not visit Ukraine and 160 other countries until Aug. 31.

Passengers traveling to Ukraine must have health insurance to cover coronavirus treatment here. The Health Ministry is dividing the world into Red and Green countries. The dividing line is a national infection rate of 40 per 100,000 people, roughly double Ukraine’s rate. Passengers arriving from a Red country will have to download the Diy Vdoma app and self-isolate in Ukraine for two weeks. A map will be posted on the Ministry website and updated every three days.

Boryspil is cutting its staff by 20%, to 3,000, Ryabkin says. Terminal F will only reopen when passenger volumes return to 1 million a month, the level of 2018. He predicts Ukraine’s air passenger flows will only return to 2019 levels at the end of 2023.

Kyiv Boryspil Express train resumes with limited service – three trains in the morning and three in the evening. Ukrzaliznytsia had not refreshed the schedule from mid-March, when 29 trains ran daily. However, Unian has posted the schedule. Expanding service, the train now connects with the city’s Metro system at the Vidybuchi Green Line Station.

Although this is to be the summer of domestic tourism, Ukraine hotels report weak July-August bookings, Interfax-Ukraine concludes after interviewing executives at three of the nation’s largest hotel chains. Andriy Dema of Reikartz Hotel Group says July-August booking range from 45 to 75%, down from 80% across the network last year. Arthur Lupashko, founder of Ribas Hotels Group, says only 20-25% of his rooms are booked for July-August. Premier Hotels and Resorts calls bookings for July-August ‘an empty sheet.’

Softening travel demand is the sense that Ukraine’s low level coronavirus problem is here to stay for the summer. In the last four days, about 700 new cases have been detected daily, about 50% above the average. Bed occupancy of Kyiv’s Covid-19 hospitals is now 46%, up from 35% two weeks ago. While some increases are due to increased testing, Ukraine took a psychological blow Friday when First Lady Olena Zelenska announced she tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at home, in self-isolation. Coming as two of Ukraine’s top peace negotiators returned from Paris with coronavirus, President Zelenskiy has cancelled all face to face meetings and trips outside of Kyiv.

Ukraine has received the $2.1 billion from last week’s IMF coronavirus stabilization deal, boosting national reserves to $28.7 billion. Yakiv Smoliy, governor of the National Bank of Ukraine tweeted: “Did you know that the funds are not coming directly from the IMF, but from the member countries of the Fund? Since yesterday, the funds have been received in parts in dollars, euros, yen, pounds and yuan.” An IMF checkup team is to come to Kyiv this summer, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko told Inter TV.

Moody’s has upgraded Ukraine’s long-term foreign debt rating to B3 from Caa1. Moody’s cited Ukraine’s new IMF deal for “the easing of Ukraine’s near-term funding challenges.” Fitch and S&P give B ratings to Ukraine’s long term foreign currency debt. All three agencies say Ukraine’s outlook is ‘stable.’

Ukraine could return to the Eurobond market at the end of this year, raising $1 billion, according to the IMF memorandum  signed with Ukraine under the new $5 billion Stand-By Arrangement. “The macro framework assumes that Ukraine will return to markets in Q4 2020,” the memorandum says. “The framework does not assume non-resident inflows in the domestic bond market for the remainder of 2020.”

An unexpected $6 million in cash dropped into the Treasury Saturday. At a press conference, officials of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office displayed photographs of bricks of $100 bills impounded in what they called a frustrated bribery attempt. They say a trio was arrested trying to pay for the cancellation of a case against Viktor Yanukovych-era ecology minister Mykola Zlochevsky for his alleged participation in the embezzlement of a stabilization loan from Ukraine’s central bank to Real Bank OJSC.

Zaporizhia’s new $40 million air terminal opened, with officials hoping to offer 12 international destinations this summer, Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krikliy said after touring the new terminal. Coupled with a newly resurfaced runway and new lighting, the airport is positioned to be the leading airport for Ukraine’s southeast. Located on the Donetsk Highway, the airport is a three-hour drive from Ukraine’s two Azov ports – Mariupol and Berdyansk. Served by LOT, Motor Sich, SkyUp, Turkish, Wizz Air, and UIA, the airport is to offer direct flights this summer to: Minsk, Burgas, Prague, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Krakow, Budapest, Istanbul, and Antalya. Motor Sich, the airport’s hometown airline, will re-start flights June 15 to Kyiv Sikorsky and on July 1 to Minsk.

About 100 km north of Zaporizhia, construction is to start this year on rebuilding Dnipro airport and runway, Minister Krikliy said. As part of $3.7 million worth of design work, a ‘Scandinavian-style” design was unveiled in mid-March by Dnipropetrovsk Region officials. Designed by Ukraine’s UVT Group, the terminal will be built by Alexander Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group. The state will build a 3.2 km runway and install modern navigation systems. When completed, Dnipro’s terminal is to be able to handle 1,300 passengers an hour, three times Zaporizhia. To ease access, a $7 million, 7 km Dnipro Bypass is being built, connecting the Zaporizhia Highway and Dnipro Airport.

Last year, Zaporizhia airport handled 434,000 passengers, almost 30% more than its rival Dnipro. Dnipro has a population of 1 million, 25% more than the population of Zaporizhia.

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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