Bulgaria Air (Bulgarian: България Ер), is the flag carrier airline of Bulgaria, with its headquarters at Sofia Airport in Sofia. The company is owned by Chimimport Inc. and is a leader in terms of local market share. The airline operates short and medium haul aircraft to destinations in Europe, Middle East, and Russia, focus cities are Burgas and Varna.
The airline was established in 2002 as a successor to the insolvent Balkan Bulgarian Airlines and commenced operations on 4 December that year. By order of the Minister of Transport and Communications it was declared the national flag carrier in November 2002. Bulgaria Air began operations using the name "Balkan Air Tour." The airline was known by that name for just a short period of time. The name "Bulgaria Air" and initial logo were determined by a public competition. Bulgaria Air was privatised in 2006; although it was rumoured that the government wanted to sell the carrier to a major foreign investor, a group of locally owned companies, led by Hemus Air, emerged as the buyer with Italian airline Air One being the only other contender. Hemus Air reportedly paid €6.6m and promised to invest a further €86m over the next five years. Since then all flights and operations of Hemus Air and its subsidiary Viaggio Air are under name and management of the merged company, Bulgaria Air.
On 20 November 2008, Bulgaria Air became a full member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In mid-2011 Bulgaria Air announced that after a thorough analysis of its destinations it had chosen to purchase seven new Embraer E-190 aircraft. The delivery of the first aircraft was in early 2012, whilst the remaining aircraft were delivered later in 2013. The company planned to lease Airbus A321s from 2016.
Bulgaria Air operates 22 routes from Sofia Airport, including two domestic routes to Bourgas and Varna. During the summer season Bulgaria Air operates flights to and from Burgas and Varna airport. New services to Beirut, Palma de Mallorca and Prague were launched in 2012.
Bulgaria Air has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:
Bulgaria Air has special interline agreements with the following airlines:
Bulgaria Air performing charter flights for over 60 leading tour operators, air transport brokers, airlines and other companies of the aviation and tourist industries. During the summer season the airline operated mainly flights from Burgas and Varna airports to destinations in Russia, Israel, Poland, Germany. Also the company operated charter flights and from Sofia airport to popular holiday destinations in Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Italy, Spain.
As of October 2016, the Bulgaria Air fleet consists of the following aircraft:ATR 42-300
In November 2002 public contests were held in Bulgaria to determine a name and logo for the new airline. Thousands of people showed their creativity and voiced their opinions. After searching through the submissions, the name and logo were chosen. The design was used for about four years, until 2006, when an improved, more professional design was introduced. After the full fleet integration of Hemus Air and Viaggio Air, a new livery had to be developed once again. In mid-2010, the first Bulgaria Air Airbus A319 was rolled out wearing the finalised colour scheme.
The company offers service for business and VIP clients with an Avro RJ70 Business Jet. The passenger compartment of the aircraft is equipped with 26 armchairs, couches, dining tables and multiple LCD displays, as well as on-board Wi-Fi.
"Fly More" is the name of the Bulgaria Air Frequent flyer programme. There are three levels of membership:Basic - initial level from which the collection of points starts. The member receives a temporary card with identification code.
Silver Standard Card - After the member conducts 5 flight he/she receives a permanent membership card. Silver Card holders may exchange their bonus points for free tickets and additional services.
Gold Privilege Card - The level is reached after earning 30,000 points within 18 months of enrollment into the programme. Gold cardholders earn a greater number of points on each flight and enjoy a wider range of benefits.
Central Cooperative Bank is issuing Visa Classic and Visa Gold co-branded Credit Cards with Bulgaria Air. These cards are giving numerous discounts and privileges to their holders.
In 2010 Bulgaria Air and LSG Sky Chefs created a new airline catering company called Silver Wings. The total investment for Bulgaria Air reaches to $1.3 million. Future investment plans envision a new canteen to serve the airport staff at Sofia Airport.
Bulgaria On Air is a business media brand, created on 9 September 2011. It is owned by Bulgaria Air and M-SAT cable. The media include two magazines; a website; and radio and TV channels.Bulgaria On Air: The Inflight Magazine - Bulgaria Air's inflight magazine. Its first edition was in 2003.
Bulgaria On Air: The Business Magazine - In April 2011 the inflight magazine was extended with an edition which is distributed in some hotels and shopping centers.