Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Bulgarian Aviation in the XXI Century

The 27th of June 1947 is the beginning of the Bulgarian civil aviation when has been made the first regular passenger flight between Sofia and Bourgas, folded by years of fast development. The economical and political relationships with the Soviet Union made possible that the national airline "TABSO", then "BALKAN", could fly with the newest airplanes of the soviet air industry. Those are the "golden years" of the Bulgarian civil aviation. The economical stability of the Bulgarian people made the air transport one of the most popular transports. But after the changes in 1989 came the sunset of the Bulgarian civil aviation. The dramatic nosedive of passengers, the big prices of the oil were fatal for the Bulgarian aviation. The attempts to build private airlines were absolute failure. Typical example is the first private airline in Bulgaria - "Jes air". The attempts to reanimate the public airline BALKAN by privatization led to her failure.

But more important is the condition of the Bulgarian aviation today. It is not so black as it seems to be. The new public airline Bulgaria air slowly but effectively is taking her position in those business and is making her destination network bigger and bigger. The exploitation of new airplanes from West Europe and America instead of the old Russian increases the company image and the quality of the service. This is an important precondition for attracting passengers and successfully rivalry vs. the other operators. It is not a secret that in this moment the most important for the Bulgarian economic is the charter business. The lots of Bulgarian charter operators are taking care of the transportation of the foreign tourists to the Black Sea coast in the summer season and to the mountain resorts in the winter. For successfully rivalry those operators have very high quality of service.

In spite of all the problems are not little. The biggest one is with the percentage of the transported passengers. In the recent years man can see one bad tendency - the number of the transported passengers by foreign airlines is growing dramatic. Other problem is the old airplane park (recently solved for a little by the leasing taking of 6 to 7 Boeings and Airbuses). The chronic insufficiency of money and the absence of state help are the main reason for the bad rivalry of the Bulgarian charter operators.

To solve these problems, in 2001 is created the Bulgarian Airlines Association (ABA). Its main aim is to protect the interests of the Bulgarian operators in front of the government and to fight for their consolidation.

Here is an introduction of some of the Bulgarian airlines:

Air Sofia
Air Sofia is a private airline. It was built in 1992. The main activity of Air Sofia are the cargo and charter flights. The company operates with 6 choppers Mi-8, 1 airplane An-26, 1 L-410 and 2 An-12.

Hemus air
Hemus air is built in 1991. It makes only regular flights. It was the second biggest operator in Bulgaria but after the collapse of "Balkan" is now the biggest. It has 17 aircrafts - three Tu-134s, one L-410, seven Yk-40s, three Tu-154s and three BAe-146s. Hemus air makes flights to Varna and Bourgas (in Bulgaria) and Oslo, Leipzig, Tirana, Bucharest, Skopje, Bratislava, Beirut, Tripoli, Pristine, Larnaca, Dubai and Athens.

Bulgarian Air Charter (B.A.C.)
Bulgarian Air Charter is built in 2000. It makes only charter flights from Varna and Bourgas to West Europe. B.A.C. has six Tu-154s and two or three MD-83.

BH air
BH air is the airline of the Bulgarian biggest tour operator - Balkan Holidays. It is the biggest charter operator in Bulgaria. It has with five Tu-154s and two or three Airbus 320s. BH air delivers passengers from Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Leipzig, Berlin, Düsseldorf and Zurich.

Viaggio air
Viaggio air was the youngest but most perspective airline in Bulgaria. It operated with only two airplanes (ATR-42) but it flew to Athens, Istanbul, Vienna and Kiev of very cheap prices (two-way ticket to Vienna costed only 199€). Not a long time ago Viaggio air was bought by another bulgarian airline - Hemus air.

Other Bulgarian airlines are: Bright Aviation Services, Inter Trans Air, Vega airlines, Heli air, Aviostart, Air Net 21(those are cargo operators) and Air Via (Via Vita Est) which is the second biggest charter operator in Bulgaria after BH air.

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