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  • Goldman: Foreign Participation To Soar in Ukraine Hryvnia Bonds
  • Gazprom Warns Bulgaria: Gas Thru Ukraine Stops in January
  • Russia Fights, China Invests
  • SkyUp Plans Flights to 20 Cities from Kharkiv, Kyiv and Odesa
  • Naftogaz CEO Stays On – at Half Salary
  • 25 Oil and Gas Blocks Up For Auction Through June
  • Foreign Companies Interested in PSAs
  • But Bonds Sold Well on Wednesday
  • EBRD to Loan €420 Million to Modernize Kyiv Mass Transit
  • Dnipro, Lviv, and Kharkiv Get New Ukrainian-made Buses
  • US-Ukraine Solar Plant Opens in Khmelniytskiyi Region
  • Škoda Car Assembly to Move from Zakarpattia to Serbia?
  • Tender to Dismantle Chernobyl Sarcophagus
  • Ukraine’s Saigon Port: Hub for Asian Trade?
  • Jabil to Double Payroll to 5,000 in Uzhgorod
  • ArcelorMittal Raises Steelworker Salaries Again
  • To End ‘the Batman Cut’, EU May Triple Duty Free Imports of Chicken Breasts
  • Dnipro Fights for its Airport
  • Tender Opens for $1 Billion, Japan-Funded Sewage Plant for Kyiv
  • €60 million Credit for SMEs
  • More Cargo, Fewer Ships at Sea Ports
  • 10% of Rail Network Closed For Safety
  • 20% of Trucks Overweight
  • Rivne, Uzhgorod Get Flights

   

Foreign participation in Ukrainian local debt auctions could increase up to 25 times, according to a new Goldman Sachs analysis of the impact of the opening this spring of a Clearstream link to the National Bank of Ukraine. This link will allow non-resident traders, based in London, Frankfurt or New York, to buy and sell hryvnia bonds from their desks. Goldman forecasts this could raise up to $6 billion in capital for Ukraine, as foreign participation rises from 1.3% today toward Russia’s recent peak of 34%.

 Linking to this international, Luxembourg-based securities depository will help Ukraine climb its “debt mountain.” With $20 billion in reserves today, Ukraine must pay back nearly $15 billion in debt obligations this year, and an additional $21 billion in 2020 and 2021.

 Gazprom Export has told Bulgaria it plans to stop sending gas through Ukraine to Bulgaria next January, Bulgaria’s Energy Minister, Temenuzhki Petkova, tells bTV, Bulgaria’s largest TV station. To replace the 30-year-old Ukraine pipeline route, Bulgaria, which depends on Russia for two thirds of its gas, plans to build this year a 484 km pipeline from the Turkish border through Bulgaria to Serbia. This new ‘Balkan Gas Hub’ would transport gas from Russia’s TurkStream and from Romania’s offshore fields. Gazprom has told Bulgartransgaz to raise the $1.6 billion to build the pipeline. In retort, Petkova threatens to sue Gazprom for $110 million in annual transit fees that Bulgaria should receive under its Ukraine transit contract, valid until 2030.

 Shanghai-listed LONGi Solar was the largest Chinese photovoltaic module supplier to Ukraine last year, the company reports, citing export data from China Customs. LONGi exported 285 MW of the assemblies of solar cells, accounting for 17% of the 1.7 GW exported from China to Ukraine. The largest of 80 Chinese companies supplying Ukraine’s solar market, the Xi’an-based company says: “LONGi Solar has placed great importance on the Ukrainian market…very rich in solar energy and suitable for the construction of PV power stations.”

 Three months after a Chinese Skywell electric bus started plying a 17-km route on Kyiv’s Left Bank, Skywell sent the same model bus to Poltava for testing. With a range of 300 km from a single charge, the bus can carry 50 passengers. Charging takes up to 90 minutes and can be done at night, when electricity rates are cheaper, Arseny Abduraimov, Skywell’s representative in Ukraine, tells Zmist news site. Last fall, the Nanjing-based bus manufacturer also sent an electric bus to Vinnytsia for testing.

 Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Co. is talking with Chernihiv Automobile Plant, a bus manufacturer, about producing electric buses at its factory. Aowei points out that it is assembling buses in neighboring Belarus and that a fleet of Aowei electric buses now carries passengers in Minsk.

 The electric transit vogue spreads to Odesa, as City Council adopts a 3-year, $134 million plan to buy 14 electric buses and 67 new trams, reports the Center for Transportation Technologies. Now in talks to win financing from the European Investment Bank, Odesa hopes to spend $30 million this year, partially on Škoda electric buses from the Czech Republic.

 China expects as many as 2,000 Ukrainian buyers and exhibitors at the upcoming Canton Fair in Guangdong Province, Xu Bing, deputy director general of China Foreign Trade Center, the organizer, tells Xinhua. Xu was in Kyiv Wednesday for an event attended by 200 people to promote the April 15-May 5 fair. “China and Ukraine are important trading partners,” Xu told China’s news agency. “Ukrainian companies are a very important part of the upcoming Canton Fair.” Agriculture, IT, and tourism are three export sectors to be on display at the fair, says Yaroslav Sydorovych, a presidential advisor. Foreign trade experts predict that in the 2020s China will displace Russia as Ukraine’s largest single nation trading partner.

 Matteo Patrone, the new regional head of EBRD, the largest investor in Ukraine, says: “Clearly the message from our Board is: invest more in Ukraine. Despite that marching order, he said that only 40% of the bank’s currently approved €3.6 billion portfolio is being deployed. Speaking at a US-Ukraine Business Council meeting, he confirmed a six-month-old EBRD halt to new investment in solar projects, pending the Rada’s passage of an auction bill for renewable energy. Saying “small privatization is working well, he added: Big privatization is a total disaster.” He said “the oil and gas sector could be a good candidate” for privatization. On Mariupol-Berdyansk infrastructure in the Azov, he cautioned that the EBRD can only deal with investment-ready projects.

 Kharkiv airport, serving Ukraine’s second largest city, joins the big leagues this spring with new flights to Azerbaijan. Cyprus, Georgia, Italy, Spain, and United Arab Emirates. The expansion of Eastern Ukraine’s biggest airport is part of a drive to increase passenger flow this year by one quarter, to 1.2 million.

 To Italy, Ernest Airlines started direct flights last week from Kharkiv to Rome and Milan Malpensa. Shadi El Tannir, business development director for the Italian-Albanian airline, said Airbus A320s are flying the two routes. He also said the company’s routes from Kyiv Sikorsky to six Italian cities are running at 80% capacity. His forecast for Kharkiv passengers is: 40% tourists, 30% Ukrainians living and working in Italy, 20% business travelers and 10% Kharkiv area residents transferring to flights to the US and Canada.

 Virtually overnight, SkyUp will become Kharkiv airport’s busiest airline, launching direct, scheduled flights between May 25 to June 7 from Kharkiv to six new destinations: Barcelona, Odessa, Kutaisi (Georgia), Lanarca (Cyprus), Rimini (Italy) and Sharjah (UAE). In May, Buta Airways starts flights to Baku. In September, Wizz Air adds a sixth EU city — Krakow.

 Also overnight, Ukraine-based SkyUp becomes the airline offering the most destinations from Odessa – seven. From May 17 to June 4, SkyUp launches direct scheduled flights from Odesa to Barcelona, Kharkiv, Kyiv Boryspil, Kutaisi, Lviv, Rimini and Yerevan. With operating bases in Kharkiv, Kyiv Boryspil and Odesa, the one-year-old airline has a fleet of five Boeing 737s, which it plans to expand to 18 planes by 2022.

 Completing expansion plans, SkyUp plans to start service from Kyiv Boryspil, from April 26 to June 2, to seven cities: Barcelona, Batumi, Lanarca, Naples, Odesa, Tbilisi and Yerevan. From regional airports, SkyUp launches service on May 25 from Zaporizhia to Barcelona. Also, the airline plans to start flights this year from Cherkasy, reports the Center for Transportation Technologies.

 After starting service last week from Kyiv to Uzhgorod, Motor Sich is in talks to start direct service from Kyiv to Mykolaiv. After opening a refurbished terminal in December, Mykolaiv handled 3,000 passengers in January-February. The target for the early 2020s is 200,000 passengers a year.

 With the Naftogaz CEO’s five-year contract due to expire tomorrow, the government has decided to renew it for one more year. With two elections and the Gazprom gas transit contract expiring, the government evidently decided Wednesday to keep a steady hand on the tiller to traverse a potentially stormy year. In response to the government’s objection to his “stratospheric” salary, CEO Andriy Kobolyev accepted a proposal by the Supervisory Board to cut his salary in half, to $19,330 a month without bonuses. Two weeks ago, the Cabinet of Ministers amended the Naftogaz charter to shift hiring and firing power over the CEO from the Board to the shareholders, i.e. the government.

 Contract renewal is subject to two other conditions. To meet EU rules, a gas transportation company must take over management this year of Ukraine’s gas pipeline system. In addition, Prime Minister Groysman wants domestic gas production to increase to reach energy independence. National production, largely by a Naftogaz unit, accounts for about 70% of Ukraine annual consumption of 28 billion cubic meters. Ukraine has 1.1 trillion cubic meters of gas, the largest proven deposits in Europe, according to the 2018 BP Statistical Review of Energy.

 “The Naftogaz production program failed,” Groysman complained to reporters, referring to stagnant production by UkrGasVydobuvannya. “The failure of Naftogaz in production creates problems in the country.” After the cabinet meeting, Energy Minister Igor Nasalik was equally blunt, telling reporters: “The program adopted by the government for gas production absolutely failed. There is no increase in production, despite the fact that extremely large amounts of money were invested.”

 To jump start foreign investment in energy production, 25 oil and gas exploration and production blocks go up for auction in May and June, according to details posted on ProZorro.Sale, the government’s online auction house. Seven blocks will be auctioned May 2. Nine more blocks will be auctioned June 18. All blocks are onshore with licenses for 20 years. Separately, production sharing agreements for nine more blocks, with a total area of 11,600 sq km, go up for electronic auction in June. Although no foreign companies bid for licenses in a first round of auctions, on March 6, upcoming rounds are winning news reports in the Oil & Gas Journal and S&P Global Platts.

 “There is interest from American, British, Norwegian and Canadian firms,” Energy Minister Nasalik told reporters Wednesday, referring to the production sharing agreements. The agreements are for 50 years. The fields are spread among six regions — Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Poltava, Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv. Interfax-Ukraine writes: “It is assumed that the state’s share in profitable products should be at least 11% of its total volume, the maximum investor’s share – 70% of total production.” Later this year, production sharing agreements for three more fields are to go up for auction.

 To prepare for a winter without Russian gas, Ukraine should store an extra 18% of gas in its reservoirs this summer and fall, Kobolyev, the newly re-empowered Naftogaz CEO, tells RBC-Ukraine. Naftogaz officials are pessimistic that Gazprom will send much – or any – gas through Ukraine’s pipelines after the transit contract expires on Dec. 31. Kobolyev said: “Many experts, whose opinion I appreciate, believe that the Russian Federation will interrupt transit from January 1.” With Russian gas supplies through Ukraine to the EU in doubt, Gazprom has said it plans to stop supplying gas to Turkey through Ukraine next year.

 Sliding gas prices in Eastern Europe will allow Naftogaz to charge Ukrainian households 2% less for gas in April than in March, the state energy company reports. Last November’s move to raise household gas prices by 23.5%, toward the regional market parity, is a big issue in the campaigning before the March 31 presidential election and the expected April 21 runoff. In April, industrial customers will pay 19% less for their gas. UNIAN calculates the industrial price of $262/1,000 cubic meters will be 14% cheaper than household gas. Due to dropping gas prices at European gas hubs, Ukraine’s prices are now at import parity. The government plans to talk with the IMF to drop a December commitment to raise gas prices by another 15% in May.

 Ukraine’s Finance Ministry raised UAH 12.5 billion, about $463 million, at its weekly bond auction on Tuesday. This is more than triple the UAH 3.5 billion in equivalent raised last week. The government satisfied all bids for dollar-denominated bonds, $85.2 million. Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “Investing in UAH-denominated government bonds is very rewarding at the moment as interest rates remain high…. As at the prior auction, a significant share of UAH auction receipts came from the sale of 2Y bonds. This a positive development indicating some growth in investor confidence.”

 French airline Aigle Azur launches Kyiv Boryspil’s sole direct flights to Paris-Orly on April 18. From its Orly hub, Aigle Azur offers connections to Algeria, Brazil and China. Orly is France’s second busiest airport, after Charles de Gaulle, and closer to central Paris –17 km to the south.

 The EBRD is committed to loaning nearly half a billion dollars over the next three years to dramatically upgrade mass transit in Kyiv. By 2021, the capital should see new buses, trolley buses and subway cars, says Mayor Klitschko. As part of the EBRD’s Green Cities program, the mayor says, the EBRD has approved €320 million in funding for four projects, including renovating tram lines around Podil’s Kontraktova Square and renovating Metro Bridge, first opened over the Dnipro in 1965. Separately, the EBRD is loaning €100 million for the purchase of 50 new subway cars, 185 new buses and 202 new trolleybuses. Bohgdan Motors of Lutsk recently won a tender to supply 55 extra-long trolleybuses.

 Noting that Ukraine has five trolley bus manufacturers and 10 bus manufacturers, Andrei Glushchenko, analysts for GMK, the nation’s metal news site, says: “The EBRD project means a favorable opportunity to support the domestic market of metal products.” He said makers of wheels, rails and subway cars should keep an eye out for the upcoming tenders.

 With the number of cars in Kyiv expected to increase by 60% by 2025, the city has adopted a $3 billion, 5-year transportation program. Heavily oriented toward non-car mobility, the program calls for buying 400 trams, trolleybuses and electric buses by 2023. Bicycle paths, removal of cars from sidewalks, better marketing of the subway system and linking Left Bank and Right Bank tram networks are elements of the plan recently approved by the City Council. Andriy Strannikov, chairman of the Council’s Budget Committee, tells Interfax-Ukraine: “Now the capital’s bridges are overloaded, the tram network is degraded, and there is no associated bicycle infrastructure in general.”

 Upgrading urban mass transit across Ukraine is the goal of a combined credit line of the EBRD and the European Investment Bank. Under the Ukraine Urban Public Transport Project, two development banks are financing this year the purchases of 227 buses, 153 trolleybuses, 56 trams and 35 subway cars. The Infrastructure Ministry reports that last year, the credit line helped finance the purchase of 167 trolleybuses: 47 for Odessa, 40 for Kremenchuk, 23 for Dnipro, and eight for Kryvy Rih.

 Electrontrans, a Lviv-based German-Ukrainian joint venture, won two tenders in recent days totaling $37 million to supply a total of 20 self-propelled trams to Kyiv. The Lviv-based manufacturer is to deliver the low floor trams from May 1 until the end of this year.

 Odessa plans to spend $50 million over three years to upgrade its central North-South tram route. The city will buy 21 single car electric trams and 16 double car trams. Last year, Odessa’s trams and trolleys carried 171 million passengers. With only 20% paying full fare, most were students and retirees.

 The EBRD and the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund are providing low interest loans totaling €17.5 million to Lviv to buy 50 low floor electric trolleybuses from Electrontrans. Under a loan agreement signed two weeks ago, the money also goes for modernizing two electric transport depots and for equipment maintenance. Separately, Lviv also plans to buy this year 10 new trams and 100 buses. Last year, the city bought 30 used trams from Berlin, 50 new buses from Electrontrans, and 100 new buses from MAZ, the Belarus manufacturer.

 Similarly, the EBRD and the Clean Technology Fund are loaning €13 million to Dnipro to buy 44 new trolleybuses. Last month, Bohgdan Motors won a €11.5 million tender to supply 57 new trolleybuses to Kharkiv.

 Ternopil has placed tenders for 100 used buses from EU countries. Expected to cost $6 million, the auctions take place on ProZorro May 15-16. Last year, Mariupol bought 20 used trams from the EU, its fourth such purchase. Similarly, Konotop, in Sumy region, has posted a $500,000 tender for six used trams from the EU. Set for delivery by Oct. 31, the trams would increase the municipal fleet by 50%.

 In a US-Ukraine joint venture, a $55 million, 64MW solar plant was inaugurated Tuesday in Kameianets-Podilskiyi, just north of Moldovain Khmenlnitskiy region. The plant was financed on a 50-50 basis by ICU, the Kyiv investment group, and VR Capital Group, a US investment fund. Richard Deitz, VR president, said: “Having invested more than $1 billion in Ukraine, we are one of the largest foreign investors in the country and are ready to continue to support the Ukrainian economy.” Makar Paseniuk, ICU managing partner, said: “In the near future, we plan to launch our second solar power plant, with a capacity of 35 MW, in the Kherson region.”

 Serbia’s largest Škoda importer tells Večernje Novosti, a leading Belgrade newspaper, that executives from Škoda and parent company Volkswagen talked to him last week about moving assembly from Zakarpattia, Ukraine to Serbia. Expecting more talks Friday, at the Belgrade Motor Show, Milenko Kostić, the importer, said: “There is smoke. But whether there will be fire, we will know soon.”

 Located on a rail siding three kilometers from the Slovak border, Eurocar assembles Škoda models, largely for export to the EU. With a production line capacity of 80,000 cars, the plant produced only 5,659 Skoda cars last year. This was 8% less than in 2017. During the first two months of this year, Eurocar produced 1,066 cars, virtually unchanged year over year. Eurocar is the last surviving automaker in Ukraine, a country that only a decade ago, in 2008, produced 424,000 cars. While auto parts plants now employ 50,000 people in Ukraine, plans for a major foreign automaker to enter the country foundered last year on the abrupt shift by EU automakers to electric cars.

 A nearly $100 million international tender has been announced for dismantling the cement sarcophagus built in 1986 around the still smoldering remains of the damaged reactor at Chernobyl. In Nov. 2016, a new, $1.7 million containment structure was rolled over the 30-year-old sarcophagus. The tender for removing and safely disposing of the old containment structure was announced Monday by the State Specialized Enterprise Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, a unit of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. The deadline for bids is April 15. ProZorro will hold the auction May 21.

 Smart Energy has hit daily gas production of 1 million cubic meters a day, the privately held British-Ukrainian group reports. If production maintains this level, it would mean a 22.5% increase over last year’s level. In 2018, production rose to 296 million cubic meters, a 31% increase over 2017. Composed of Regal Petroleum and Ukrgazvydobutok, the group produces in eastern Ukraine, in Poltava and Kharkiv.

 Ukraine’s part ownership of a container port on the Saigon River, a legacy of the Soviet era, could become a logistics hub for Ukraine’s exports to Asia, Viktor Dovhan, deputy infrastructure minister, tells the Center for Transportation Technologies. Last week, Dovhan toured the port, which is on the southern edge of Ho Chi Minh City, 43 nautical miles from the confluence of the Saigon River and the South China Sea. In 1991, Black Sea Shipping Co. – now Blasco-ChMP – bought 38% of the port of Lotos. With a 100,000 square meter patio for containers, Lotos “opens up convenient routes of communication with the global Eastern business activity centers – Singapore and Hong Kong,” Dovhan said.

 Smartphone payments with MasterCards could increase 90-fold in Ukraine in 2019-2020, Yuriy Bakhtin, Mastercard Ukraine business development director, predicted Monday at a Kyiv round table. In 2018 alone these payments increased 90-fold, he said according to Interfax-Ukraine. He said that last year Ukraine was among the world’s top five countries for digital payments with smartphones, digital watches and bracelets.

 Judging by income tax returns, Ukrainian declared incomes grew 7% last year, in post inflation terms. According to the State Fiscal Service, Ukrainians paid the hryvnia $3.6 billion in income tax, 17% more than in 2017. Inflation in 2018 was 10%.

 US-based Jabil has doubled its Uzhgorod manufacturing space and plans to nearly double its payroll, to 5,000, the company reports. In a $16 million investment, Jabil, traded on the New York Stock Exchange at ‘JBL’, will increase production of mobile phones, media players and goods for cars and for the smart home market. Coupled with a new logistics center in Tiszaújváros, Hungary, two hours by truck from Uzhgorod, “Jabil significantly increases its capacity to deliver for our customers, whilst sustaining growth in Eastern Europe,” Alessandro Parimbelli, Jabil executive vice president, said Friday at an inauguration ceremony attended by President Poroshenko.

 Competing for workers with Eastern Europe, ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine’s largest integrated steel company, plans to increase employee salaries by 15-20% on May 1, according to Vmesh-Profinfo, the trade union news site. This increase follows a 44% increase last year, to an average monthly wage of $600. Personnel director Julia Chermazovich told trade union leaders last week that $11 million in ‘13th salaries’ would be paid by Friday. The increases come despite a 22% drop last year in the company’s steel production.

 “Chicken Kiev baron on course for big EU trade win,” Politico headlines from Brussels. Under a plan emerging from the EU headquarters, Ukraine’s quota of chicken breasts would more than triple, increasing to 70,000 tons, from 20,000 today. The goal is to eliminate the ‘Batman cut’ loophole. Under this ruse, Yuriy Kosyuk’s MHP exports to the EU chicken breasts with bones still inside. EU meatpackers slice out the bones and sell the breasts tariff-free. The final deal needs the approval of EU member governments.

 Dnipro officials are fighting to protect their city airport, arguing that rebuilding their airport would take two years and cost €215 million, while the Infrastructure Ministry’s proposal to build a regional airport 40 km south of town would take five years and cost €400 million. These numbers were presented at a city hall press conference Friday by Airport Consulting Vienna GmbH, a company that has done studies for Kyiv Boryspil and Kharkiv airports.

 The airport terminals of Dnipro and Ivano Frankivsk are owned by Igor Kholomoisky, the Dnipro oligarch in self-exile in Israel. Last year, of Ukraine’s top 10 airports, Dnipro and Ivano Frankivsk were the only airports that did not see double digit passenger growth. Dnipro grew by 8% and Ivano by 2.4% Consulting Vienna said Dnipro airport should be built to handle 4 million passengers a year, four times the city’s current population and 13 times last year’s passenger flow — 300,000 people.

 By legalizing dual citizenship, Ukraine would keep its growing diaspora involved in business, culture and government service here, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tells Radio Kultura. “I stand for dual citizenship for such Ukrainians and consistently speak out in favor of it.” Despite such open attitudes, foreigners frequently complain that in practice work visas and residence permits are hard to get, often blocked on technicalities by low level ‘public servants.’

 Kyivvodocanal is posting an international tender for a five year, $1 billion, Japanese-funded project to upgrade Kyiv’s sole sewage plant to treat the waste of 5 million people, about 12% of Ukraine’s total population. Located on the Left Bank, near the southeastern limits of the capital, the Bortnychny Sewage Treatment plant was built in three phases in the Soviet era. Work started in 1965, when greater Kyiv’s population was one third the size of today. Fed by 2,662 km of sewer pipes, Bortnychny’s three units handle up to 1 million cubic meters of water a day. The 272 hectares of sludge fields contain 10 million cubic meters of sediment.

 Under tender terms released Friday, Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, represents Japan for a 40-year loan, granted at 0.1% per annum with a grace period of 10 years. Of the 108 billion yen –or $971 million — loan, 30% of construction is reserved for Japanese goods. Two months ago, Kyivvodocanal, the city water company, started working with a new design and consulting joint venture composed of: Nippon Koei Co., TEC International Co. and Nihon Suiko Sekkei Co.

 “JP Morgan stuns market with Ukraine tap,” Reuters headlines from London about the US bank’s move last week to buy Ukraine’s entire placement of $350 million in Eurobonds. Sudip Roy an editor at Reuters’ International Financing Review, writes: “The trade was testament to JP Morgan’s belief that Ukraine is heading in the right direction, despite the huge challenges facing the country, and its willingness to put its balance sheet at risk.”

 Thousands of Ukrainian SMEs are to benefit from a €60 million EU-oriented credit line launched Friday by the EBRD and EU4Business. Available for privately owned businesses with less than 250 employees, the credit line is to help small and medium businesses export to the EU. Initially, €10 million will be administered by OTP Leasing Ukraine and €22 million by UkrEximBank. Matteo Patrone, EBRD regional director, said the line “provides local SMEs, which create almost 80% of jobs in the country but currently are responsible for only about 40% of GDP, with additional access to finance so they can develop further, become more competitive and comply with EU standards.”

Opened in 1794, Odessa, Ukraine’s world renowned Black Sea port, is being overtaken by its once junior satellites, Yuzhne and Chornomorsk, according to new cargo statistics from the Sea Ports Autority. Forty km south of Odesa, Yuzhne saw its cargo traffic jump by one quarter in January-February y-o-y, to 7.4 million tons, affirming its position as Ukraine’s busiest port. Forty km north of Odesa, cargo volumes at Chornomorsk increased by 27%, to 3.993 million tons. This pushed Odesa down to fourth place. Odesa’s cargo volumes increased by only 7%, to 3.971 million tons. Outside of Odesa region, Mykolaiv retained the second place spot, with a 26% increase, to 5 million tons.

 Fewer ships handle more cargo at Ukraine’s sea ports. During the first two months of this year, cargo was up 12.5% y-o-y to 23 million tons, but port calls were down 7%, to 1,726 vessels. As last fall’s bumper harvest moved through the ports, exports rose 21.5%, while imports fell by 5%. For export, the ships carried 35.5% more grain and 26% more metals than during the same period last year.

 Container traffic grew by 17% in January-February, compared to the same period last year. With dedicated container trains fanning out from Odesa, Odesa port handles 62% of the 145,000 units. Yuzhne saw its container traffic triple, to account for 24% of the nation’s total. In third place was Chornomorsk with 14%.

 Freight service is suspended on almost 10% of Ukrzaliznytsia’s 20,000 km rail network due to lack of maintenance, calculates the Center for Transportation Technologies. Fearing derailments, state railroad officials increased speed warnings by one third last year – from 251 track sections in 2017 to 339 track sections today. Track reconstruction is overdue on 2,432 km, including the 1,857 km where train traffic is suspended. Two weeks ago, the state railroad posted a blacklist of 301 freight stations that are candidate for closure due to low cargo volumes – 2.4 wagons or less a day during the fall harvest season.

 Twenty percent of trucks selected to drive through new weigh stations in Dnipro last week were overloaded, reports Interfax-Ukraine. The truckers were fined. Operated by Ukrtransbezopasnost, the State Service for Traffic Safety, the weigh stations are not popular with truckers. On the Dnipro-Kryvyi Rih highway, truckers drove over weigh station signs. One driver blocked the weigh station entrance for two hours ‘to change a wheel.’

 Reopening regional airports like beer bottles, Infrastructure Ministry officials welcomed restoration of air service between Kyiv and Uzhgorod on Friday and approved the first scheduled flight in years for Rivne.

 To Uzhgorod, Motor Sich now flies a 50-seater Antonov 24 turbojet on a twice weekly route: Kyiv Sikorsky-Lviv-Uzhgorod. The flight from Kyiv takes three hours, but the alternatives are a 10-hour drive or a 14-hour train ride. Enabling restoration of air service after a three-year gap, the European Aviation Safety Agency certified in December that Uzhgorod airport fully complies with EU air safety standards. With the runway ending at the Slovak border, all takeoffs and landings pass through EU air space.

 Welcoming the flight, President Poroshenko said: “We should bring tourists to Zakarpattia region by airplanes and trains in order to increase the potential of the region. In re-election campaign mode, the President told Zakarpattia reporters that Kyiv is spending a record $32 million to repair the region’s roads. To greet the President, residents placed flower pots in potholes along the expected route of his motorcade.

 This Saturday, Bukovyna Airlines and tour operator Join Up start a weekly flights from Rivne airport to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. With a leased McDonnell Douglas MD-83 passenger jet, Bukovyna and JoinUp also are studying starting a Rivne-Antalya, Turkey flight. Located a three-hour drive from Lviv airport, Rivne can draw passengers from northwest Ukraine and from southwest Belarus, also a three-hour drive. Starting last December, Eleron, a new Kyiv-based air cargo company, is basing three AN-26 turboprop transport planes at Rivne.

 

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