LONDON – Italian’s recent hard-hitting low-cost carrier Ernest Airlines has inaugurated services to Kharkiv from Rome and Milan this week.

From the two Italian cities, up to 11 direct flights will operate every week to Ukraine, with flight times of three and a quarter hours on average.

Kharkiv is the third Ukrainian destination after Kiev and Lviv.

The airline expressed significant confidence into these route inaugurations, “given that they have never been served before with direct flights, hence allowing business or leisure travellers to reach quickly Italian destinations”, according to the statement.

Commenting on the inaugurations was Chady El Tannir, the President of the carrier who explained the growth strategy to Ukraine in particular.

“Ernest Airlines continues its expansion between Italy and Ukraine, with these two new direct flights from Rome and Milan to Kharkiv. From these two flights to Kharkiv we expect many leisure passengers from both countries and an increase of the business travelers.”

“Kharkiv region is a pearl of Ukraine and it offers a lot of opportunities to Italian tourists and businessman. Italy remains one of the top seller destinations in Ukraine and the Italian tourism products,”

In the winter season, services between Milan and Kharkiv will operate on a three times per week basis on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays using its Airbus A320s.

Services from Rome to the same destination will occur on the same days as Milan using the same aircraft.

For the Summer season, services to Kharkiv from Milan will operate on a twice weekly basis on Thursdays and Sundays, with Rome services also operating the same frequencies and the same aircraft also.

Ernest Airlines started operations in July 2016 and currently has a fleet of three aircraft, consisting of one Airbus A319-100 (EI-FVG) and two Airbus A320-200s (EI-GCC and EI-LIX).

One more A320-200 is in storage and is due for delivery as part of the carrier’s plan for 2019.

This will consist of growing into 29 international routes from 12 Italian Airports.

The airline has already carried more than 200,000 passengers from Ukraine to Italy in 2018.

Services are also on offer to the likes of Albania, Romania and Spain from Italy.

The carrier is taking an interesting approach to the low-cost element by incrementally growiing where there are market gaps and slowly adding the competitive prices where appropriate.

it will be interesting to see how much further the airline can expand into the Ukraine and whether there will be any new markets htta will be opened up in 2019.