Last year, Varna and Burgas airports welcomed 4.9 million passengers and more than 35,000 flights of 97 Bulgarian and foreign airlines.
Despite the extremely high traffic growth of almost 50% from 2015 to 2018 and the record year 2018, Fraport Twin Star Airport Management AD ended the year with a 10.7% decrease in passenger traffic at both airports.
"After such an interesting and challenging for the industry year, our goal in 2020 is to regain the positive passenger traffic growth levels. We are consistently working to promote the airports of Burgas and Varna, as well as the whole Bulgarian Black Sea coast as an attractive tourist destination, which has a lot to offer even to the most demanding traveler", said Ulrich Heppe, CEO of Fraport Twin Star Airport Management AD.
In 2019, Burgas Airport operated flight programs of 72 airlines to 132 destinations in 37 countries.
The airport served more than 2.85 million passengers, which is a decrease of 12% compared to the record year 2018.
The top five countries in terms of passenger inflow to Burgas include the United Kingdom (564 000), which marks 10% growth compared to the previous year, and equals 20% of the total number of passengers that have flown through the airport, Russia (507,000), Poland (399,000), Germany (297,000) and the Czech Republic (266,000).
Among the leading departure destinations from Burgas were Moscow, London, Prague, Tel Aviv and Katowice. The winter destinations at Burgas Airport include the routes London - Luton and Moscow - Domodedovo.
Nine new airlines operated flights to and from Burgas Airport and 3 new routes were added to the airport portfolio.
Since May, low-cost airline Jet2.com has linked Burgas to nine UK airports: Belfast International, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle.
The largest number of passengers in one day (35 649 passengers) were serviced at Burgas Airport on August 2nd.
New routes are also expected in 2020, starting with the new direct Burgas - Vienna route, which Lauda will launch twice a week on March 31. Up to five new destinations have already been requested in 2020 - the three cities Lviv, Khakov and Vinnica in Ukraine, Rostov in Russia and Szczecin and Lublin in Poland, and 3 new airlines will start operating at the airport.
In 2019, at Varna Airport, flight programs of 66 airlines were implemented, covering 117 destinations in 45 countries.
Over 2 million passengers were served, a decrease of 8.6% from 2018.
Most passengers arrived from the top six countries: Germany (535,000), which equals 26% of the total passengers passing through the airport, Bulgaria (260,000), United Kingdom (191,000), Poland (171,000), Russia ( 165,000) and Austria (124,000). Among the leading destinations for departure passengers at Varna were Sofia, Moscow, London, Vienna and Tel Aviv.
There is a reported increase in passengers from the UK by 26% and Austria by 15%. The busiest day of the year was July 30, with a total of 15 960 passengers served.
Last year, 4 new routes and 9 new airlines were introduced.
Developments will continue this year, after the opening of 2 new routes. One, Varna-Vienna will be operated three times a week by Lauda airline from March 31, and the second, Varna - Nantes will start from April 14 by the Spanish airline Volotea.
Currently, four new destinations have been announced - Aarhus, Denmark, Krakow and Rzeszow in Poland and Deville, France which will begin in 2020, in addition to 5 new airlines that will start operating at the airport.
Good news for the 2019/2020 winter season is the enriched portfolio of destinations that, for the first time this year, connect the airport with a total of 16 European cities.
In winter 2019/2020, the connectivity at Varna Airport increased from 6 routes in 2015 to 16 routes in 2019, with a total of 5 new winter destinations, namely: Liverpool, Berlin-Schoenefeld, Cologne, Hamburg and Paris.
Active Promotion of the Black Sea Airports
For a consecutive year, Fraport Twin Star will participate in the 3 most important international tourism fairs in London, Berlin and Moscow, where through discussions with major international tour operators and airlines, company representatives actively promote the two airports of Burgas and Varna along with the Bulgarian seaside as an important tourist destination.
The Fraport Twin Star team also participates in leading aviation industry forums, at each event meeting with decision makers from leading airlines.
The discussions are aimed at convincing the airlines already operating flights to Burgas and Varna airports to enhance their operation, or present the potential of the airports and the region to new prospective partners.
“The Fraport Bulgaria team has been working with certain airlines on a number of potential new routes for years. Airlines have complex criteria for selection of new routes, often also subject to external factors, such as political developments, competition, etc. Airlines are focused on the propensity to travel of the population at both ends of each route, the main reasons for travel, economic potential of the region, business travel, tourism potential and last but not least prospective profitability. Even if a certain route meets all of the above criteria, it would not be launched if it doesn’t fit into the particular airline’s strategy or if the airline doesn’t have capacity available,” points out Ulrich Heppe.
During the first 13 years of the concession - the period from 2006 to 2019, Fraport Twin Star invested over BGN 395 million in infrastructure and technology improvements at Varna and Burgas airports.
In 2019 alone, the amount spent on investment projects at the two airports amounts to over BGN 8.6 million.
Reconstruction of the apron was been started at Burgas Airport. The works are planned to be executed gradually, for a period of four consecutive years in the inactive season.
In addition to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of surface areas, a complete replacement of the apron lighting is envisioned. The investment amount for this project is foreseen to exceed BGN 14 million.
Еarlier in the year, the expansion of the automobile parking area was completed, increasing its capacity by about 100 positions.
Another interesting project was the improvement of the irrigation system - construction of a reservoir and 3 new wells, connected to the irrigation system of the green areas at the airport.
At Varna Airport, the design phase of the rehabilitation and extension of taxiway “Echo” – 1,220m in length began. The investment project is estimated at about BGN 4 million.
Improvements are to the hangar building are currently underway – construction and fire prevention measures in the amount exceeding BGN 1.7 million. The project is scheduled to be completed in September 2020.
Construction work on the extension and rehabilitation of the apron is scheduled to begin this year, including the assembly of new apron lighting, in addition to the preparation of the design of the new Fire Safety & Rescue Service building.
In 2020, over BGN 12 million have been planned by Fraport Twin Star to be invested in the two Black Sea airports.