Low-Costs Are Welcome To Regional Airports, Transport Ministry Says

Belarus Ministry of Transport is interested in low-cost airlines launching flights to regional cities of Belarus.

However, it is not known when the flights may actually start.

REUTERS/Franciszek Mazur

The ministry wants to develop regional airports in Belarus and is holding talks with budget air carriers.

“The airports in Grodno, Gomel, Vitebsk, and Mogilev meet the international standards,” Minister of Transport and Communications Alexey Avramenko told the media.

“All of them showed growth last year, but this is not enough. The growth was mainly due to charter flights.”

The development strategy adopted by the ministry involves the creation of a low-cost base in Grodno airport, Avramenko said.

“We held a number of talks. For example, with the Azerbaijani side about low-cost airlines for flights to Gomel and Grodno. We met with the embassy of Hungary to invite Wizz Air to Grodno airport.

We’ve signed an agreement with Estonia, which allows a third-party carrier to Tallinn-Minsk destination.”

Besides, Belarus and Russia have agreed to increase the number of flights between Minsk and Moscow to 63 a week for each side. Also, a few weeks ago, Belarusian officials held negotiations with the Polish side about flights from Krakow to Grodno and from Warsaw to Gomel.

Waiting for low-costs

The coming of low-costs to Belarus has been on the table for a long time.

Transport officials of various levels have repeatedly mentioned talks with Ryanair and Wizz Air, but without any results.

Avramenko’s predecessor Anatoly Sivak said there were no obstacles to budget airlines coming to Belarus, but for their own willingness. Still, the Belarusian government is not ready to provide subsidies to foreign carriers.

Meanwhile, the national airline Belavia is working to improve its attractiveness to passengers. The company has recently introduced a free stopover in Minsk for transit passengers, launched direct flights to Estonian Tallinn and announced plans to start selling baggage free tickets.