Kiev: Dubai’s low-cost airline flydubai announced plans to enter the Ukrainian market, adding direct flights to Kiev, Kharkov and Donetsk in September, travel and tourism professionals in both countries have been busy preparing for the inevitable boom.
Flydubai has partnered with Dubai-based Alpha Tours and Moscow-based Natalie Tours to offer travel packages to Ukrainians who want to visit the UAE.
The stakes are high.
“With the new rates and the new flights … we are expecting for the coming season an increase of 130 per cent [compared to 2009],” Adnan Aridi, managing director of Alpha Tours, said.
Article continues below
Aridi expects 20,000 Ukrainians to visit Dubai each year as a result of the added flights.
“Dubai and the UAE in general is not new for this part of the world,” said Jeyhun Efendi, head of commercial operations for the UAE, Middle East, Europe and CIS for flydubai.
“Dubai is an amazing city, an exciting place. So as flydubai, it’s really easy to promote the route because the location sells by itself. So as an airline of Dubai, we have to live up to the standards, to offer the same kind of flight which meets their image of Dubai; high quality and friendly,” he said.
Major hotel groups from the UAE travelled to Ukraine last month to meet local travel agents and provide them with information about special deals for flydubai passengers.
“We offer flydubai passengers, together with Natalie Tours, a very special rate for the summer and for the forthcoming winter in order to support the new flights,” Nasser Fawzi, director of sales and marketing for the Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, said.
“We have seen [an increase in travellers] from Russia last season and we expect the same from Ukraine, especially with the increase in flights,” he added.
Although the bulk of the traffic is expected to be inbound travellers from Ukraine, the new route offers a great opportunity for travel groups to offer packages for UAE residents wanting to explore the stunning richness of this eastern European gem, sometimes referred to as the ‘Rome of the Orthodox Church’.
Buzz is already building among the local expatriate community, who are familiar with every cobblestone in western Europe and want to try something new.
“Eastern Europe fascinates me and Ukraine seems like the natural place to start,” Kate Davies, a Dubai-based expatriate from the UK, said. “The former Soviet countries are so mysterious to us western Europeans and I think for me, that’s part of the appeal.”
The country is as fascinating as it is diverse. Holidaymakers can walk the historic streets of Kiev, admiring the architecture, visiting churches and museums. It’s a cosmopolitan city where East meets West, old world meets new.
Skiiers can enjoy the slopes of the Carpathian and Crimean mountains, while those seeking downtime can opt for a cruise along the historic Dneiper River to the Black Sea where some of Europe’s most stunning, least-crowded beaches await.
But perhaps the biggest draw for UAE residents will be the UEFA Euro Cup that will be co-hosted by Ukraine next year. Football fans from across Europe will descend on the country’s host cities, two of which will be flydubai destinations, to take part in the football mania and support their favourite team.
Flights to Kiev and Kharkov will commence on September 16, and flights to the eastern city of Donetsk will start a day later.
The one-way fare to Kiev from Dubai starts at Dh715, and fares from Kiev to Dubai are priced from Dh750.
The one-way fare to Kharkov from Dubai starts at Dh790, and fares from Kharkov to Dubai are priced from Dh825.
The one-way fare to Donetsk from Dubai starts at Dh790, and fares from Donetsk to Dubai are priced from Dh825.
According to the decrees of the President of Ukraine, a visa-free entry regime has been established for citizens of a number of countries. They include the US, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Iceland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.
For citizen of other countries, the Ukrainian Embassy and Consulate will give details on the application process according to the country of citizenship.