Sofia Airport (SOF/LBSF)


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Substantial evidence exists to support arguments that this highly populated EU capital could support services to a range of points including Stockholm, Hamburg, Geneva, Riga and other long haul destinations in Asia – perhaps by Middle East carriers using connecting points in the Gulf.

Sofia Airport is looking for these new partnerships

Short & Medium Haul Opportunities
Scandinavian Region
  • The annual market potential between Sofia and Scandinavia is over 140 000 O&D in 2016. For the last five years, the region recorded stable traffic growth by 45 percent. The increasing popularity of Bulgaria as a four-season tourist destination is only one of the drivers of this growth. The expected annual market potential between Sofia and Copenhagen is about 60 00  &D passengers in 2015. It is the most potential market in Scandinavia with stable market demand. Sofia Airport looks for new services to this route and also to Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki.
Baltic Region
  • The Baltic market has reached about 15 000 O&D passengers p.a. from Sofia in 2014. The lack of direct air services is a restraining factor for the further market development. Riga is the preferred route with well-established regional connections to Northern Europe.
Southern France
  • Annually over 24 800 O&D passengers fly from Sofia to South France making connections at congested European hubs. Lyon and Nice both are targeted for new direct routes.
Benelux
  • In 2014 the Belgium and Netherlands markets achieved respectively 10% and 14% growth on passenger traffic to/from Sofia.
Spain & Portugal
  • Spain and Portugal are high potential markets with stable market demand. Spain market noted 7% increase in passenger volume in 2014.
Strategic Routes
Asia – unserved market with significant traffic potential
  • Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Narita, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur – Carriers from the region might discover Sofia as an alternative and cost effective way to enter the European market trough its eastern border.
USA
  • New York, Chicago, Washington – 100 000 O&D passengers p.a. from Sofia to the Eastern Coast with 15% growth in 2014. Another 20 000 are looking for connections to the Southern States. Ethnic traffic and cargo potential have been identified.

Other major reasons to serve this airport

The modern airport, which has over 70 years’ experience, boasts surroundings with stunning nature and a rich history. Bulgaria attracts 5 million foreign tourists annually, travelling for leisure alone.

  • Sofia is the capital and main city of the Republic of Bulgaria which became an EU member in January 2007
  • Four of the total 10 Pan-European transport corridors cross the country and connect it with the rest of the region
  • The population of Bulgaria is 7.7 million people – about 2 million live in Sofia
  • 9.4 million foreign tourists visited Bulgaria in 2014 (+2.4%)
  • Sofia is a commercial, cultural, transport and university centre, with well developed facilities for business, investments and tourism
  • It is one of the greenest capital cities in Europe, known for ages for its therapeutic mineral springs in its surroundings as well as with a lot of opportunities for sport and entertainment nowadays
  • Sofia Airport is a door opened 365 days, 24 hours to a country with ancient culture, great history, unique traditions, natural wonders and friendly people
  • It is the largest airport in Bulgaria with over 75 years of experience, modernised infrastructure and well-developed network of year-around scheduled services to 50 destinations
  • The twofold passenger traffic growth in just four years ranked Sofia Airport among the fastest developing airports in Europe
  • The attractive marketing environment include low operational costs, a wide choice of airport slots and service providers
  • Since 25 January 2012 the holders of valid Schengen visas are able to visit and stay in Bulgaria without Bulgarian visas
  • Sofia Airport becomes an international transportation hub with the new metro line extension inaugurated on 2nd April 2015
  • Sofia ranks 30th fastest growing city in the world in 2014
  • A Discovery to Share advertisement video presenting all tourism opportunities in Bulgaria to be shown on Euronews, Eurosport, Discovery Channel and National Geographic in 2015
  • Best outsourcing destination in Europe – Cushman & Wakefield, 2015
  • Sixth best country for doing business in Eastern Europe – Bloomberg, 2015
  • Sofia is European Capital of Sport 2018

Sofia marketing

On Tuesday, 2 April 2013, Sofia Airport welcomed easyJet’s first flight on the new Sofia – Berlin Schoenefeld route with a traditional water salute.

Mr. Kristian Krastev - Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications in the Caretaker Government of Bulgaria greeted the aircraft crew with commemorative goodie bags. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Mr. Dimitar Bogdanov, Chairman of the Bord of Directors of Sofia Airport, Mr. Veselin Peykov – Executive Director, Sofia Airport and Mr. Peter Voets - Marketing Manager for Austria, Switzerland and Eastern Europe, easyJet.

Marketing and other support

Sofia Airport keeps its tariffs at very competitive levels. The proactive route development initiatives are supported by an extensive scheme of discounts on the airport charges and comprehensive marketing support programme.

Sofia Airport also actively supports airlines which open new routes or increase capacity on already existing ones:

  • Market analysis – passenger and cargo flows
  • Strategic partnership offered – business associations, tourist organisations, sales agencies
  • Co-branded promotional campaigns
  • Free-of-charge advertisement on Sofia Airport website and within the airport premises
  • Media information tours
  • Attractive Incentive support

Press releases

Sofia is located in a central position in the Balkan peninsula, making the EU airport the ideal gateway for a vast area – a catchment of more than 16 million people.

Catchment Area

Sofia is a gateway to the EU common market, conveniently located on its eastern border. The airport is also at a close distance to other Balkan capitals and large cities: Skopje – 240 km, Thessaloniki – 300 km, Belgrade – 395 km, Bucharest – 400 km, Tirana – 535 km. Sofia Airport is the main international airport in Bulgaria, which offers year-round direct flights to more than 40 destinations – 26 of them with daily frequencies. This gives Sofia Airport strength to attract passengers from a population of over 16 million citizens.

Sofia’s location, where major European roads cross, make it an ideal freight gateway for southeast Europe. A large number of major international investors generate freight and air travel-related opportunities, including Hyundai, Nestlé, Johnson Controls, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM etc.

Under-served freight opportunities and other economic impact factors

  • Favourable geographical location of Sofia creates opportunities for transfer of goods between continents
  • This advantage has been noticed by many world known forwarders who invested in a logistic park in the vicinity of Sofia Airport
  • All necessary storage and handling facilities are available at the airport provided by a good choice of suppliers
  • Among the leading foreign companies represented on the Bulgarian market are Mitsubishi Heavy industries, HYUNDAI, Johnson Controls, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM, KRAFT FOODS, Nestle.

Terminal 1 caters to low-cost and charter carriers, providing bus gates and a capacity of 1.8 million passengers, while the new and modern 56,500 sqm Terminal 2, completed in 2006, caters to full-service airlines.

Geography

  • Located in the eastern side of the capital, 10 km from the city centre
  • Convenient public transport
  • Subway extension opened in April 2015 providing convenient access from Sofia Airport Terminal 2 to the Central Railway and the Central Bus stations.
  • Easy access to the main country motor highways

Infrastructure & Operations

  • Runway: One runway (3,600 m x 45 m); Cat III A
  • Apron: 31 remote aircraft stands and seven contact stands
  • Slot Coordinated Airport – Level 2
    E-mail: slot.coordination@sofia-airport.bg
  • Operating hours: 24/7; (scheduled flights restricted between 23:00-06:00)
  • Terminals: Two terminals with total annual capacity of 4.6 million
    • Terminal 1: dedicated for Low-cost & charter carriers 
      Capacity: 1.8 million
      Area: 9,300 sq.m
      23 check-in desks, seven bus gates, two baggage claim carousels, Ticketing counters, Duty Free shops, café bars, bank and rent-a-car offices, tourist services, Lounge, Public parking for 400 cars in close proximity to the terminal
    • Terminal 2: dedicated to network carriers
      Capacity: 2.8 million pax/year
      Area 56, 500 sq. m
      34 check-in desks, seven boarding bridge gates, four bus gates, four baggage claim carousels, Ticketing counters, Duty Free shops, café bars, bank and rent-a-car offices, tourist services, Lounges, Multi-storey public parking for 850 cars
  • Liberalised ground handling market
    • SOFIA AIRPORT EAD offers full service – passengers, baggage, ramp, cargo and mail

Important infrastructure developments

Sofia Airport becomes an intermodal transportation hub with the new metro line inaugurated on 2 April, 2015. The extension provides convenient access to the Central Railway and the Central Bus stations. The project was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Standards and certificates

Quality and environmental management certificates

In the last week of May 2012, Sofia Airport was certified in accordance with the requirements of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), receiving certificates for two standards: ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management) and ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental Management). The Certificates are valid for three years and cover all activities performed by Sofia Airport as airport operator in compliance with the CAA Act, inclusive of other activities carried out by the airport company, such as ground handling, commercial activities, rental of terrains, premises, facilities and other capital assets.

The development, implementation and certification of the Quality and Environmental Management System as per ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 have been funded by the European Union under the Operational Programme “Competitiveness”. The successful project completion, re-affirmed by the certification audit performed by RINA Group (an Italian company with offices in 42 countries and 150 years of experience in the sphere of market valuation, control, certification and research), is an outcome of the joint efforts of the consultant team and the project management team of Sofia Airport.

The implementation of the Quality and Environmental Management System in compliance with the requirements of ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004, proves that all activities carried out by Sofia Airport are directed towards an effective resource management and incessant service quality improvement, focused on meeting the requirements of the end user. The latest tendencies underlying ISO 14001:2004 promote implementation of an integrated management model, which means that requirements are related not only to service provision, aimed at environmental protection, but also to adequate work conditions and ethics.

The pursuit and application of these two standards, as a managerial position in respect of Sofia Airport, is a continuation of the policy of the airport company – a responsible and professionally prominent business entity – whose activity is dedicated to meeting the needs of the serviced community.

Vital statistics

Traffic statistics back to 2006 and marketing information for leading airlines and the most popular routes at Sofia Airport can be seen here