Ryanair, which is one of the largest foreign airlines in Ukraine, has announced that it has a duty to fly passengers in and out of the country as long as a Russian invasion does not materialise.
Statements By Group Chief Executive
“Is it our duty and obligation [...] to support the people of Ukraine as long as there is no war or missiles flying there,” group chief executive Michael O’Leary told a news conference in Lisbon.
O’Leary said that he saw no reason to halt flights unless European authorities say that it is not safe to fly to Ukraine.
“It is important not to panic,” he said. “People need to get home, and people want to leave and fly abroad to the EU. [...] Airlines have to provide that service.”
Planes And Flight Plans
Ryanair announced last month that it could base up to 20 planes in Ukraine over the next few years if Russia does not invade it, and the carrier announced plans for 230 weekly flights from three Ukrainian airports this summer.
Further Statement By Group Chief Executive
Asked if the plan still stood, O’Leary said that the airline is reviewing the situation in Ukraine daily, but that the country remains a “huge potential market as long as there is no Soviet invasion”.
Several airlines have either halted flights to Ukraine or are considering doing so.
Ukrainian authorities have said that they are keeping their airspace open.
NATO accused Russia on Wednesday 16 February of sending more troops to a massive military build-up around Ukraine, even as Moscow announced that it was withdrawing forces and open to diplomacy.