Last year, the airports in Varna and Burgas welcomed 5.5 million passengers and more than 38 000 flights by 103 airlines. The growth in 2018 was 13%, while in the last 3 years the traffic of both airports increased by 50% to 60% percent.
“After such a successful year, the challenge we face is to maintain growth levels. It will not be easy as airlines are reevaluating their routes due to the rising oil prices. Of course, we will continue to attract partners and strive to develop traffic outside the active season,” said Ulrich Heppe, CEO of Fraport Bulgaria.
Although seasonality is a challenge for the company managing the Black Sea airports, Fraport has achieved growth outside the season in Bourgas last year. In October, for example, Bourgas Airport marked a passenger growth of 102%, in November 17% and in December 14%, compared to 2017.
In 2018, Bourgas Airport serviced flights by 78 airlines to 143 destinations in 32 countries. The total numbers of passengers were 3.3 million, up 10% from 2017. Most passengers arrived from Russia (567,213), Great Britain (513,974), Germany (500,213), Poland (461,836), the Czech Republic 276,642), Israel (145,557), Slovakia (114,920), Norway (71,976), Belarus (67,691) and Denmark (51,351). For those departing from Burgas, leading destinations were Moscow, London, Prague, Tel Aviv and Katowice.
The new routes last year were 14 and the new airlines 10. Additional routes are expected in 2019. The low-cost British airline Jet2.com, for instance, announced that in May it will connect Bourgas to nine airports in the UK: Belfast International, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle.
In 2018, Varna Airport serviced flights by 74 airlines to 115 destinations in 39 countries. The passengers for the year were 2.3 million, up 16% from 2017. Most passengers arrived from Germany (596,930), Bulgaria (287,458), Russia (226,608), Poland (193,337), Great Britain (151,626), Israel (110,226), Austria (107,822), Turkey, (84,311), the Czech Republic (66,228) and Belgium (59,979). For those departing from Varna, the top five destinations were Sofia, Moscow, London, Tel Aviv and Vienna.
The new routes last year were six and the new airlines 10. The trend of development will continue this year after Wizz Air announced in December that it is basing a second aircraft in Varna. As a result, the low-cost airline will update the frequency of some of its current flights and will add six new routes from July: Paris, Liverpool, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin.
More good news for the upcoming year came from the Polish national carrier LOT, which starts regular flights between Varna and Warsaw on June 9. The service will be once a week, on Sundays.
This year the enhancements of the Black Sea airports will continue with new investments by Fraport Bulgaria. The expansion and rehabilitation of the apron has already started in Varna. During the second half of the year will also begin the project design of the new building for the Fire Department and the rehabilitation of taxiway Echo. The realization of the two projects is planned for the period 2020-2021.
During the same period in Varna will be done also the rehabilitation of taxiways Bravo and Delta, after last year Fraport completed the renewal of taxiway Alfa – one of the most used taxiways, with length of nearly 800 meters.
Furthermore, this year Burgas Airport will continue the projects connected to the expansion and rehabilitation of the apron, the expansion of the terminal and the second extension of the parking zone.
“We strive to tackle the capacity constraints of Bourgas Airport and take on the growing traffic,” Ulrich Heppe said. “We continue to invest in order to create the best conditions not only for all carriers, but also for airport visitors. In 2018, we did our best to improve the experience and satisfaction of passengers and offered an even greater variety of services, such as Victoria Secret's only official stores. We will continue to work in the same direction in 2019,” added the executive director of the company operating the two Black Sea airports.
During the first 12 years of its concession, Fraport Bulgaria invested BGN 390 million, as a result of which the airports in Varna and Burgas can say that they meet the highest European safety standards, based on the recommendations of EASA – the European Aviation Safety Agency, which standardizes the activities of airports in the areas of safety and resource efficiency.