The launch of the first low-cost airline WizzAir and the completion of the new Sofia airport have created a stir in the airlines community and companies are queuing to sign up new contracts for regular and charter flights to Bulgaria. Three new low-cost airlines are to start flights to Bulgaria within the next 10 months. The Italian My Air is planning to start low-cost flights from Sofia to Venice and/or Bologna. Prices will start from €1, excluding airport taxes.
Air Berlin is another low-cost airline which is about to launch its regular line from Sofia to Berlin. The company has an extensive flights network to most European countries, as well as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. The expected single ticket will be EUR19. The Slovak airline Sky Europe starts its regular flights from Sofia to Bratislava for about €70 return.
Easy Jet are also looking at the possibilities to establish Sofia airport as a control center for its operations in the region, as well as the Middle East. What stops Easy Jet’s regular flights from London to Bulgaria at the moment is the protective licensing regime operated by the Bulgarian government, in attempt to protect the national carrier which has regular flights from Gatwick to Sofia and Varna. After 2007 along with its EU membership Bulgaria joined to the Open Sky European Airspace Agreement, which means that governments will no longer be able to impose any protective business legislation and practices.
Two Chinese air companies (Air China and Hainan Airlines) are also serious bidders for a slice of the market. There is an interest also from the Qatar Airways, KLM and Cimber Air for opening new regular and charter flights to Bulgaria, which promises a busy year ahead. First Choice will start flying from Bristol and Glasgow too, along with its usual Birmingham destination.