Passenger air transportation in Ukraine, according to YC.Market, is carried out by 362 legal entities. These are 307 companies and 55 private entrepreneurs. A third of Ukrainian airlines for the period 2004-2023. has either ceased operations, gone bankrupt, or is in a state of dissolution. The YouControl study says who is the leader in the aviation market, how much they have managed to earn over the last three years and who has not been spared by the sanctions.
Among almost fifty companies that filed financial statements for 2022, MALAGA AIR LLC earned the least – 1.5 thousand UAH. The highest revenue was indicated by Skyup Airlines – almost 3 billion UAH.
Largest airlines: revenue and forecasts
Skyup Airlines was among the largest airlines in terms of revenue in 2022 with an indicator of UAH 2,756.8 million. And for the third quarter of 2023 – UAH 3,233.8 million. Revenue for 3 quarters of 2023 exceeded revenue for 12 months of 2022, which indicates a likely change in the business model and reorientation from Ukrainian to foreign markets.
Skyup Airlines was founded in 2017. It is currently part of the financial and industrial group Alba Family Group. The key persons of this group are Alexander and Yuri Alba – co-owners of Join UP! and SkyUp. Among the founders/participants are ACS-Ukraine LLC and the British company Global Travel Holding LTD.
In second place is PJSC Ukrainian Helicopters Airlines. The company earned UAH 2,709.9 million for 2022 and UAH 2,884.9 million for 9 months of 2023. The company has been on the market for 21 years. According to the FinScore index in the YouControl system, it has a sufficient level of financial stability.
Express analysis of YouControl shows that the company is the subject of a journalistic investigation. In the article “Bigus.info” dated November 8, 2015, it was said that the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not intend to return the Ministry of Internal Affairs helicopters leased by PJSC “Ukrainian Helicopters”.
It was reported that the prosecutor's office even initiated a legal process for the return of helicopters leased by the Ukrainian Helicopters company. The Court Reporter article for June 25, 2022 also mentions the return of aircraft to Ukraine. “Ukrainian helicopters” had to do this within two weeks after the start of martial law in Ukraine in February 2022. Journalists indicated that eight helicopters are subject to return, and their cost is estimated at UAH 360 million.
Ukraine International Airlines also made it into the top three largest passenger air carriers. The private joint stock company is related to the Privat group, the key persons of which are Ukrainian billionaires Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov.
The owners of UIA are the Ukrainian company Capitel Investment Project and the Cypriot Ontobet Promotions Limited. International Airlines was founded in 1992. Revenue in 2022 amounted to UAH 1,755.9 million, for the third quarter of 2023 – UAH 5.3 million.
There was a 99% drop in UIA revenues. The FinScore index shows an unsatisfactory level of financial stability of the company and a high probability of adverse consequences.
Since the end of 2023, bankruptcy proceedings have been initiated. It is noteworthy that 7 years ago UIA led the leadership of top companies in terms of passenger traffic and was first in terms of income. For example, in 2018, the revenue of this airline was UAH 27 billion.
“The aviation company Rose of the Winds, which is included in the list of the largest airlines by revenue, is related to the Privat group. The company has been on the market for 20 years. The founders are Rydel LLC and Cypriot BREGENZER LIMITED. Revenue in 2022 amounted to UAH 772.1 million, and for the third quarter of 2023 – UAH 719.5 million.
“Skyline Express Airlines, which is in the top ten largest, has been on the market for 15 years. In 2022, its revenue amounted to half a billion UAH, and in the 3rd quarter of 2023 – 368.9 million UAH.
It is noted that the company likely has a historical connection with the aggressor country in the past. Previously, the ultimate beneficial owner (controller) and/or participant of the counterparty was a citizen of the Russian Federation and/or a person registered on the territory of Russia. We are talking about UTAIR-LEASING LLC, whose country of residence is the Russian Federation.
The private joint-stock company Constanta Airlines also made it into the top ten largest airlines; in 2022, its income amounted to UAH 233.7 million, for the 3 quarters of 2023 – UAH 150.1 million. While N3OPERATIONS LLC in 2022, revenue amounted to UAH 263.5 million, and for 9 months of 2023 – UAH 483.5 million.
The above-mentioned companies are part of the FIG “Constant” and have a common subscriber Authorized person with identical first name, last name and patronymic: Alexander Dmitrievich Nefedov, listed in both companies. They also have a common beneficiary, who is Roman Viktorovich Mileshko.
Air carriers and “sanction storms”
Aircraft Group LLC is part of the Smart Holding group, the key person of which is Vadim Novinsky. Mr. Novinsky is the beneficiary of this company and has been included in the NSDC sanctions list since December 2022.
The financial and industrial group “DF Group” included Dmitry Firtash’s DF Aviation LLC, which is the beneficiary of the organization and against which the sanctions were applied Ukrainian restrictive measures from June 24, 2021 to June 23, 2024. The company suspended its activities in July 2019.
“Horse Airlines and Kamus Air were subject to sanctions by the National Security and Defense Council in October 2021. Ukrainian restrictive measures are valid until October 29, 2024. The specified legal entities were also added to the US sanctions list (OFAC SDN List) for providing assistance to Iranian and Iraqi airlines through the provision of aircraft and services (Iranian Caspian Air and Iraqi Al-Naser Airlines).
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“Horse Airlines has been on the market for 25 years. In addition to passenger air transportation, the company is engaged in auxiliary activities in crop production, rental of air vehicles, and vocational education. It also indicated such additional types of economic activities as: “Operation of sports facilities”, “Auxiliary maintenance of aviation transport”, “Advertising agencies” and “Repair and maintenance of air and space aircraft.”
And here is LLC Kamus Air, operating for 26 years, is registered in Mariupol, Donetsk region. An express analysis from YouControl informs that there is a possibility that Roman Valeryevich Antonyuk, an authorized representative of the counterparty, is hiding/hiding from law enforcement agencies.
Two more air carriers were previously subject to sanctions. These are Ukrainian-Mediterranean Airlines (US AVIA) and Bukovyna Airlines. For leasing and selling aircraft to the Iranian airlines Mahan Air and Iran Air, they were included in the American sanctions list, as reported by the US Treasury Department. Both airlines are connected not only by sanctions, but also by the Merhej family.
The beneficiary of US AVIA is the former Lebanese businessman Rodrigue Elias Merhej. And the owner of Bukovyna Airlines, Marun Elias Merhezh, is Rodrigue’s father. Currently, there is information about bankruptcy about Bukovyna Airlines.