A Boeing 777-300 operated by Ukrainian carrier Skyline Express took off from Boryspil International Airport (KBP), on December 19, 2023, bound for Tarbes, France (LDE) where it will receive maintenance.
The aircraft, registered UR-AZR, departed without any passengers onboard at 9 am local time. The plane had been stuck at the airport since February 2022, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to a total closure of the country’s airports and airspace.
Skyline Express is the new brand adopted by Azur Air Ukraine in 2023 and is linked to Turkish tour-operator Annex Tour, which also controls an eponymous charter airline in Russia (Azur Air). Since the start of the war, the rebranded Skyline Express has relocated to Poland, from where it operates charter flights to several destinations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Although Ukrainian airspace has been closed since the start of the full-scale war, some aircraft have been occasionally allowed to depart the country.
This included two Turkish Air Force A400M transport aircraft that had arrived at Kyiv Boryspil just hours ahead of the start of the Russian invasion and managed to return to their home country on December 20, 2023.
A large portion of Ukraine’s airliner fleet managed to evacuate the country ahead of the start of the invasion. This was in no small part due to the fact that aircraft lessors began to request such a move in early 2022 when Russia started to make significant threats.
However, some airlines have seen some of their aircraft stranded since February 2022.
One such airline is Wizz Air, which still has three Airbus A320 aircraft in Ukraine. A fourth aircraft of the same type was safely evacuated on September 13, 2022, from Danylo Halytskyi International Airport Lviv (LWO) to Katowice (KTW), Poland. Ukrainian airline SkyUp also managed to get a Boeing 737-800 out of Kyiv-Boryspil in April 2023.
In a post on its Linkedin page published December 20, 2023, Kyiv-Boryspil airport stated that it is working with the relevant authorities to set up a “security infrastructure concept” in order to resume flights at some point in the future, despite the ongoing military conflict.