Ukraine International Airlines is restarting flights to New York. Instead of Boeing 777 and 767, it is relying on Boeing 737, which are forced to make stopovers on the route.
Since the end of the lockdown, airlines have been struggling with low load factors on most routes. On services once operated by very large planes, smaller ones are now sufficient. Ukraine International Airlines is taking a radical step in this direction.
Starting in December, the Ukrainian flag-carrier will again operate two weekly flights from Kiev to New York John F. Kennedy. Instead of flying with the long-haul jets Boeing 767 and 777 as before the Coronavirus crisis, Boeing 737 will now be used, according to news site Avianews. Because the short- and medium-haul jet does not have enough range to cover the entire route, each flight requires a fuel stop in Keflavik, Iceland.
Not a real business class
The stopover will take one hour. For the entire outbound flight from Kiev to New York, Ukraine International indicates a flight time of just over 12.5 hours. The return flight including the stopover will take 11.5 hours. For customers, the change from large to narrow body aircraft is a clear downgrade.
Business class seats, as in the Boeing 767 and 777, are not available on the Boeing 737-900. However, with a seat pitch of 80 centimetres (31.5 inch), it is quite generously spaced for this type of aircraft. Anyone booking tickets in this price class can take an economy seat with a free side chair. There is no internet access or entertainment system on board. Due to the slight diversion and the refuelling stops, the flight time in both directions increases by more than two hours.