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Ukraine: Powerful businessmen flee the country in private jets in fear of Russian attack

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Online aircraft tracking sites track just about everything that flies in the sky. FlightRadar24 or ADS-B Exchange compile them day after day. With registration numbers OE-HHH, TC-MFY, or YU-SVL, a number of private jets left Kiev, the country’s capital, on February 13, many of them heading for Switzerland or Austria.

While we can’t know who exactly was inside these planes, private flights are very expensive. For example, a Kiev-Zurich flight costs around 12,000 euros according to an online estimate. Trips like these are generally taken by wealthy businessmen, company directors or politicians. The Ukrainian newspaper Pravda claims that the number of such specially chartered flights was around 20 on February 13, a figure not seen in six years.

Oligarchs and Ukrainian businessmen

Départ de nombreux jets depuis #Kiev #Kyiv #Ukraine aujourd’hui vers de multiples destinations comme Chambéry #France par exemple – simple vacances aux ski 🎿 ? https://t.co/kPFYHeAvKP pic.twitter.com/ONxEgqKwlA

— COTAM Fleet & co (@CotamFleet)

Among the powerful people who took these flights, the Ukrainian newspaper mentioned Rinat Akhmetov (the founder of System Capital Management) and Boris Kolesnikov (a politician). The latter, in a Facebook post, denied this and said he wanted to stay in Kiev until March 1, 2022.

On his Facebook account, Boris Kolesnikov refutes accusations by Pravda newspaper that he fled the country.

The flights continued on February 14. On the site FlightRadar24, several private planes could be seen leaving Ukraine.

Despite Zelensky demanding oligarchs that fled Ukraine return ASAP, private jets are still taking off and heading west. It seems not everyone is as confident as the president that everything is fine. pic.twitter.com/s5saD3TtVu

— Kyle Glen (@KyleJGlen)

President Zelensky gives them 24 hours to return to Ukraine

At a press conference on Monday with the German Chancellor, Ukrainian President Voldomir Zelensky asked powerful businessmen and deputies to return home:

People who are abroad, deputies of different parties […] I would personally like to ask them to return to the country within 24 hours. I think they should come back.

The airline KLM announced on February 12 that it had suspended its flights to Ukraine. Many states are calling on their citizens to leave the country and reducing their diplomatic presence.

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