A key area of EU finding is to support Bulgaria’s tourist industry by upgrading and improving facilities associated with this sector. The Black Sea Coast supports two airports; one in the city of Varna and the other on the Southern tip of the coast in Burgas. Both airports are in the process of rejuvenation to change them from the cold, concrete monstrosities they were in the Communist era to attractive traveller-friendly arrival and departure points.
In June 2006, the Bulgarian Government awarded Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide a 35 year long concession on both airports in return for investments exceeding €500 million.
Located in a picturesque bay only 10 km north-east of the city, Burgas Airport has often been voted “Bulgaria’s Best Airport.” Indeed Burgas municipality is renowned for its well-developed industry and the airport is no exception to this rule; the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport rated the airport as the most dynamically developing airport in the country. Burgas Airport is a regular member of the European region of the Airports Council International.
At over 80 years old, the airport was founded in 1927, when aviation experts from Air France (then known as CIDNA) chose the site for an airport.
The airport benefits from its strategic geographical location lying on the border between Europe and Asia and offers opportunities to connect with other modes of transport either through its busy sea port, its important railway junction or the E 87 international motorway and Trans European Corridor № 8 all of which are situated less than 15 km from the airport.
The airport covers an area of 2 532 000 sq. m, which includes the cargo centre. It houses 3 200 m of runway making it able to receive large aircraft like the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. Its mild climate ensures excellent visibility all year round resulting in a reliable service with few delays. It’s potential to handle large capacities of passengers and cargo has had a strong effect on the development of the neighbouring transport network and tourism infrastructure.
The airport offers easy access to some of the Southern Black Sea beach resorts with Sunny Beach, historic Nessebar, Elenite, St Vlas and Dyuni all lying less than 30 km from the airport.
Located on the Northern Black Sea coast, Varna airport lies 8 km from the city centre in the district known as Aksakovo. Its ideal location and the transport facilities nearby have made the airport an attractive partner for the development of cargo flights, servicing customers from East and West. It is easily accessed by road lying on the E70 motorway. There is a bus stop with buses to the city and the beach resorts outside of terminal 1, which provides a regular and reliable service. The railway station which provides rail links across Bulgaria and Europe is located only 10 km away.
The airport was constructed in 1946, although a mail service had operated out of Varna since 1916. As the tourist industry grew improvements were made to the building with the addition of a new terminal in 1972 and a new runaway in 1974.
The airport has a single runway, 2,500 m in length. Its busy cargo area handles 46 tonnes of freight a year. There are around 132 daily takeoffs and landings during the peak summer season with traffic from 135 destinations in 43 countries.
Varna’s strategic location makes it ideal for access to the Northern beach resorts of Albena, Golden Sands and St Konstantin all of which lie less than 30 km away. The airport also provides easy access to the regions three new golf courses and the historic and picturesque town of Balchik.
Varna International Airport is subject to heavy traffic flows following the growth in the Bulgarian tourism industry. In 2007, the airport handled 1,493,267 passengers and 14,969 aircraft movements. The airport is currently undergoing renovation to modernize, expand and handle projected passenger traffic. From June 2008, it opens a new terminal to handle the growing number of charter flights.