23.12.2020: Ukraine International Airlines has summed up the preliminary results of operating and business activities in 2020. The current calendar year began with positive changes in UIA work due to the optimization of the route network in autumn 2019. Decisive steps that were made to bring the airline to break-even, allowed the company in the first months of 2020 to provide revenues that exceeded the budget targets.
Unfortunately, UIA's success was accompanied by bitterness and grief over the horrific loss of PS 752 flight Tehran-Kyiv, where 167 passengers and 9 crew members were killed. The airline's plane was shot down by Iranian military missiles on January 8, 2020. This grief divided the company's life into "before" and "after" and became the first significant psychological test for the UIA team in 2020, followed by a pandemic and unprecedented quarantine restrictions.
Consequences of the spring lockdown
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and government decisions to ban air travel, the airline was forced to cancel thousands of flights and, as a result, the airline received thousands of refund requests. In the period from April to November 2020, 85,861 passenger requests were processed and refunds in the amount of almost $ 22 million were issued. So far, about 56,000 unprocessed refund requests have been registered. UIA staff constantly carefully records each request and processes them in turn.
During the lockdown, the airline optimized its work: reduced expenditure items by three times, optimized the fleet and proportionally reduced the staff for about 1,000 people.
As a result, UIA will end 2020 with the following indicators:
· from January to December, UIA operated about 17,000 scheduled and code-share flights, which is 72% less than in 2019;
· during the specified period, UIA transported 1,787,000 passengers - four times less than the result of 2019 (about 8 million passengers)
· the percentage of transit passengers accounted for 43% of the total traffic (486,000 passengers), which is 86% less than last year.
· UIA transported 4,824,000 kilograms of cargo (15,073,000 in 2019) and 1,350,000 kilograms of mail (4,404,000 in 2019).
Spring lockdown and quarantine restrictions have prompted reconsideration of approaches to doing business with a wider use of digital technologies. In order to optimize operating and marketing costs, in the context of the general market downturn, UIA has refocused on services, promotions and sales, mainly through digital and online channels.
As a result, during 2020 UIA implemented a number of such solutions:
· focused on increasing direct sales of the tickets through the official website;
· provided passengers with an automated promo code to guarantee the preservation of the ticket in case of cancellation / rescheduling of flights due to the pandemic with a mandatory 25% bonus;
· created the online Manage My Booking (MMB) service which provided passengers with the opportunity, if necessary, to independently change the flight parameters (flight route, date, additional services, etc.) through a mobile application or on the UIA website.
In general, the emphasis on digitalization and the use of digital solutions by airlines has become a general trend in 2020.
Rescue cargo transportation
Air cargo transportation during the spring lockdown has become a priority for UIA. With the permission of the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine and international regulators, the airline was able to operate cargo transportation, including the cabins of passenger aircraft. UIA actively transported humanitarian, medical and special cargo. This provided the airline with invaluable experience in organizing anti-crisis cargo transportation, which has the potential to be realized when transporting Covid-19 vaccines.
UIA social responsibility
One of the priority directions of UIA activities during the pandemic was “Under the Wing” charity initiative, to help sick children. Despite the restrictions of most countries regarding border crossing by citizens of Ukraine, arrival for treatment remained allowed for most countries. That is why UIA has rebooted the work of the “Under the Wing” charity project. Now members of Panorama club loyalty program can again make contributions with their own miles to UIA partner medical organizations to provide free flights to children who need treatment or medical screening abroad.
“Supporting such a social initiative is especially important in our new realities. Travel restrictions in 2020 fortunately do not apply to medical flights. This allows aviation to continue to make one of its main missions - to help those who need urgent medical treatment abroad. It has always been a matter of honor for UIA” noted Tatyana Nevmerzhytska, UIA Loyalty Program Development Manager.
During the period of such an initiative within Panorama Club program from June 2019 to November 2020, miles have been earned and used to issue 121 tickets for the medical transportation of children. Exactly 16 air tickets were used during 2020, and 10 of them - immediately after the resumption of the program during the crisis period.
Prospects in 2021
UIA has done and is doing everything possible to maintain its own flight network. So in 2020, UIA operated 155 routes, taking into account regular, special, cargo and charter flights.
“Working under quarantine restrictions in 2020 taught the UIA team flexibility, adaptability and resilience. And alone, without any outside help, we endured and passed this test. Everyone at UIA is ready to work for the result as well 24/7 and provide passengers with the opportunity to fly in the new 2021. Accordingly, we look to the future only with a positive. The beginning of vaccination against Covid-19 in the USA, Great Britain, Germany and other European countries also indicates a positive signal for recovery.” noted the CEO of the airline Evheniy Dykhne.
UIA plans a gradual restoration of the original route network in 2021. In particular, from the beginning of the summer season of 2021, it is planned to launch flights on 43 international and 7 domestic routes, which will restore full-fledged air communication between the regions of Ukraine and numerous European countries through the hub at Boryspil International Airport. Starting from April 2021, UIA plans to restore its own route network by 64% of the volume of 2019.