Bulgaria Air Back in the Days: The Boeing 737 From the Scrapyard

Written by on August 9, 2016 in Leisure, Tourism - No comments

Nowadays, Bulgaria Air is attractive. With a fleet of thirteen mostly modern aircraft, which are being maintained at the big Lufthansa Technik hangar at Sofia Airport, the airline is looking good. After having changed owners almost every five minutes for quite a while, the company has been owned by Chimimport Inc. for several years now. The situation seems stable.

The fleet consists of five nice and shiny Airbus aircraft, two A319s and three A320s, which are mainly being used for flights to and from Western European destinations. They also own two Boeing 737-300s, an Avro RJ70 Business Jet, presumably for the airline’s owners and well paying “high society” passengers, as well as one BAe 146 and one Embraer 190, for low-volume flights.

Bulgaria Air cooperates with Berlin Air on routes to Germany. They offer attractive, direct connections to European, North African and Middle Eastern destinations, at competitive prices.

If we look back a few years, during the times when the airline’s owners and name changed back and forth, things were very different. Apart from the chaos at Sofia Airport and Bulgaria Air counters in pre-E.U. years, the fleet was crappy. Yes, that is exactly the right word. They had an old Boeing 737, with a Bulgarian flag and the words “Republic of Bulgaria” painted on its body, which was in dual use. It would fly passengers and, when needed, government officials. This aircraft was gold, compared to the other one they had.

The Boeing 737 in question here looked like it had been purchased at some aircraft scrapyard in Arizona for 200 Leva. It is a miracle that thing actually took off and never fell from the sky. Passengers who entered this flying pile of junk, would notice the rust on the body, next to the doors, immediately. No matter how many buckets of white paint they would use up, the corrosion would just not disappear. A cosmetic issue? Maybe. But the state of this 737 from the outside might have mirrored what its innards looked like. A failing bulkhead is no joke. The same applies to other existential parts, which do give up over time, after thousands of takeoffs and landings, if airlines neglect the maintenance.

The interior was even worse. The dirty, brownish seat covers suggested they had been in use since 1974 without being washed once. Their smell could have been better as well. The paint on the ceiling and the luggage compartments was chipping off. On top of that, there was absolutely no room between the seat rows. Any person taller than 1.7 meters would have serious issues squeezing his or her legs into the non-existing gaps.

Another element of the interior suggested that this particular Boeing had been rushed back and forth in North America for decades, long before it came to Bulgaria: The seats featured old in-flight telephones with United Airlines-stickers on their receivers. The latter were sticky and kept on falling down during takeoff.

Passengers, who had just succeeded to forget about the fact that they might have been sitting in a flying coffin, thought they would be compensated with a nice snack, once the trolley dollies started walking towards them. What they actually received? Objects, which had similarities with bread rolls. But their taste was comparable to the look of the aircraft.

Yes, this was back then.

By Imanuel Marcus



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