Air Ocean Airlines, a Ukrainian airline, is considering the utilization of two domestically produced Antonov An-148 aircraft, which were operated before the full-scale Russian invasion. According to Vyacheslav Herigi, the director of Air Ocean Airlines, the company would be willing to open flights from Uzhhorod Airport if deemed safe. The airport is situated near the Slovakian border, ensuring that the aircraft would quickly enter the airspace of NATO member countries upon takeoff, as reported by Avianews.
In a statement directed towards the Ukrainian authorities, the company highlighted that Uzhhorod Airport is located near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains on the Slovak side and is relatively protected from the east. The runway dimensions of 2038 by 40 meters are sufficient for safe takeoffs and landings of the An-148-100E aircraft.
Should Uzhhorod Airport not be approved for passenger flights, Air Ocean Airlines is prepared to operate abroad under wet leasing conditions, leasing out aircraft along with crews to other carriers. This leasing model is currently employed by Ukrainian airlines such as SkyUp, “Rosa Vitriv,” and Skyline Express (formerly Azur Air Ukraine).
Earlier, spokesperson Yuri Ignat of the Ukrainian Air Force stated that the resumption of flights from Ukraine is currently not feasible. He pointed out that hostile rockets and drones could potentially emerge in any part of Ukraine, raising significant safety concerns.
The prospect of Air Ocean Airlines utilizing Ukrainian-made An-148 aircraft reflects the airline’s determination to navigate the challenges presented by the current geopolitical situation. The company’s willingness to operate under various scenarios, including domestic and international options, underscores its adaptability and commitment to maintaining a resilient presence in the aviation industry during turbulent times. The exploration of these strategies showcases the airline’s dedication to providing reliable and efficient travel options while prioritizing the safety and well-being of its passengers and crew.