Sofia Airport saw a 6.6 per cent year-on-year increase in passenger numbers in January 2018, falling just short of half a million people moved – 499 688 versus 468 968 in the first month of last year – despite a small decrease in the number of flights operated in the first month of the year.
International traffic, which accounted for 92 per cent of total passenger numbers, grew by 4.4 per cent in January, while domestic traffic nearly doubled from more than 10 000 passengers carried to just under 20 000, the airport said.
The reason for the sharp increase in domestic numbers was due to the fact that a second airline began operating Sofia-Varna flights, Sofia Airport said. Although the airport’s management did not name the airline, low-cost carrier Wizz Air resumed flights on the route in March 2017.
The number of total flights operated by the airport in January 2018 was almost 4500, the airport said. Last year, management reported 4529 flights in the first month of 2017.
The amount of cargo handled by the airport also showed strong growth, by 9.6 per cent year-on-year, to 1687 tonnes.
Bulgaria’s government, under the previous administration of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, called an international tender to pick a concession operator for Sofia Airport in mid-2016, after several delays, and repeatedly extended the bidding deadline.
The tender was cancelled in April 2017 by the Ognyan Gerdjikov caretaker cabinet, claiming that an expert analysis concluded that the concession terms were not “in the state’s interest.” Since Borissov returned to government for a third term after last year’s snap elections, his cabinet is yet to call a new concession tender.