Ukrainian entrepreneur sets up online travel agency in UK

Ukrainian entrepreneur sets up online travel agency in UK

Liliia Ilkevych wants Fly&Joy to become franchise

A Ukrainian entrepreneur has set up an online travel agency in the UK as she rebuilds her life following Russia’s invasion of her home country.

Liliia Ilkevych, whose company Fly&Joy recently joined the Travel Trust Association (TTA), specialises in trips for her fellow Ukrainians in Britain.

“I built my life and career in Ukraine, but the war changed all my plans,” said Ilkevych, who moved to Cornwall in June 2022.

In Kyiv, Ilkevych worked in the banking sector for 16 years. For the last three, she had a staff of 30 as she created and led a department offering a remote service for “premium” customers.

Ilkevych also developed her knowledge of the travel industry through her role as a consultant to the chief executive of an agency.

Although she had been interested in starting her own business in Ukraine, the war meant she needed to leave the country.

“I chose to move for the safety of my children and I’m very grateful to the UK government and British people for their support,” said Ilkevych, a mother of two.

After learning English, she set up Fly&Joy in December 2022 as a franchisee of More Than Cruise before going on to join the TTA in February 2024. Ilkevych has amassed about 10,000 followers across Instagram, Facebook and Telegram, with the latter accounting for the majority.

“Telegram is like WhatsApp and it’s popular with Ukrainians,” she explained.

Beach holidays to Spain and Turkey are the most commonly requested trips, but Ilkevych is trying to broaden the range of bookings.

“I would like to tell my customers about cruises, travelling by train or taking city breaks,” she said.

Ilkevych, who has applied to become an Atol holder and has started building a bookable website, hopes to hire staff and would eventually like to sell to British travellers.

She also hopes to launch Fly&Joy as a franchise, with personal travel consultants trading under the brand.

“I would recruit Ukrainian people who worked in Ukraine as travel agents but can’t start working in the UK because of the language barrier,” she said.