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Passenger traffic at Bulgaria’s airports is slowly recovering

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The war in Ukraine and soaring inflation have not prevented people to travel abroad. Foreign nationals, mostly from the European Union and the Balkan countries book cheap flights to spend a weekend in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia. The country’s winter resorts, which are preparing to close the winter tourist season on the eve of Easter, are also welcoming foreign guests. Many of them arrive in Bulgaria via Sofia Airport.

In March 2022, however, air traffic in Bulgaria was still far from the pre-pandemic levels, the management of Sofia Airport announced. The number of passengers using regular international passenger flights has decreased with 31% as compared to March 2019. However, the number of passengers increased with 260,000 as compared to the same period last year. The number of passengers travelling on domestic flights has also risen significantly. According to data of Sofia Airport, their number saw a 77% increase as compared to March 2021.

“The war in Ukraine and soaring fuel prices are affecting the entire aviation sector and are hindering the rapid recovery of air traffic. We expect that the relaxation of anti-epidemic measures will have a beneficial effect on air travel, but we are still far from pre-pandemic levels. The team of Sofia Airport is working to launch new regular seasonal flights, some of which are already part of our summer flight schedule, said Jesus Caballero, Chief Executive Officer of Bulgaria’s busiest airport.”

Meanwhile, Burgas Aiport announced that the number of passengers processed in March 2022 increased with 147% as compared to the same period last year. This is an impressive statistics, taking into consideration that a number of flights from Russia and Ukraine were cancelled.

Passenger traffic at Varna Airport increased with 152% year on year. In March 2022, Bulgaria’s marine capital has welcomed 51,354 people, whereas in March 2021, Varna Airport served only 20, 401 passengers. Most passengers are nationals of Germany, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Austria and Turkey.

The abolition of the emergency epidemic situation raises hopes for a better tourist season. However, the war in Ukraine is generating concern among the representatives of the tourism sector. It is too early to say whether this year’s passenger traffic at Bulgaria’s airports will reach the pre-pandemic levels registered in 2019, but airport concessionaires are hoping to overcome the difficulties and emerge safely from the crisis.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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