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
Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki
  • The annual market potential between Sofia and Scandinavia is over 80 500 O&D in 2011 compared to 62 000 O&D passengers in 2010. For the last five years, the region recorded stable traffic growth by 20 percent. The increasing popularity of Bulgaria as a four-season tourist destination is only one of the drivers of this growth. As the direct route to Copenhagen was discontinued for the Winter schedule 2011, Sofia Airport looks for new services to this route and also to Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki.
  • The Baltic market has reached about 15,000 O&D passengers from Sofia. 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.
Lyon, Nice
  • Annually over 40,000 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.
  • Stuttgart is remarkable with its stable double-digit annual passenger growth from Sofia – a jump of 80% in just a four-year period. Over 22,000 O&D passengers expect a direct offer.
Strategic Routes
Gulf Area (for connecting opportunities)
  • Current indirect traffic to the Gulf and the Middle East of over 23,000 O&D passengers. Behind traffic potential from neighbouring countries of 35,000 O&D passengers. Convenient connecting opportunities to China, the Indian Sub-continent and other destinations in the South and North Pacific would triple the market potential.
Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul
  • Asia offers an unserved market with significant traffic potential to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Narita, Seoul – Carriers from the region might discover Sofia as an alternative and cost effective way to enter the European market through its eastern border.
New York, Chicago, Washington
  • New York, Chicago, Washington – 100,000 O&D passengers from Sofia to the East Coast. Another 20,000 are looking for connections to the Southern States. Ethnic traffic and cargo potential has 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
  • 5.2 million foreign tourists visit Bulgaria annually for sea, skiing, SPA and other leisure purposes (+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 its surrounding therapeutic mineral springs and, nowadays, the opportunities for sport and entertainment
  • Sofia Airport is an open door 24/7, 365 days to a country with an ancient culture, great history, unique traditions, natural wonders and friendly people
  • It is the largest airport in Bulgaria with over 70 years of experience, modernised infrastructure and a well-developed network of year-round scheduled services to over 40 destinations
  • The two-fold passenger traffic growth in just four years ranked Sofia Airport among the fastest developing airports in Europe
  • The attractive marketing environment includes low operational costs and 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 is nominated to receive the title of European Capital of Culture for 2019

The candidature of the city of Sofia for European Capital of Culture 2019 is a lifetime opportunity to promote our city in the European and international cultural scene and to create better life for our citizens, businesses and international visitors. The initiative “European Capital of Culture” is one of the most prestigious and popular European cultural events and is designed to help bring European nations together. The initiative was established in June 1985 by the Council of Ministers of the European Union on the initiative of Melina Mercouri. Since 1985 more than 40 cities are selected for the title of European Capital of Culture.

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 applies an incentive package on the published level of airport charges:

5 year incentive for new scheduled year-round route – outside Europe

Discount on Landing charge

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Level of discount 99% 99% 80% 50% 20%

3 year incentive for new scheduled year-round route – inside Europe

Discount on Landing charge

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Level of discount 80% 50% 20%

1 year incentive for year-round increased capacity on existing route (applicable only for the additional flights on the route)

Discount on Landing charge

Year 1
Level of discount 80%

Incentive for new seasonal route (Winter Schedule or Summer Schedule)

Discount on Landing charge

Level of discount 50%

Incentive carriers contributing to the development of connecting traffic through Sofia Airport

Discount on PSC charge

For passengers arriving on international flight and departing on international flight 45% reduction on the corresponding PSC
For passengers arriving on international flight and departing on domestic flight 45% reduction on the corresponding PSC
For passengers arriving on domestic flight and departing on international flight 45% reduction on the corresponding PSC

Sofia Airport – low cost airport charges

The total amount to be paid for landing, parking, passenger and other airport charges (excl. ground handling) at Sofia Airport for a typical A320 aircraft type is €2,290 for a short turnaround on a contact stand (with airbridge) – a saving of about €690 per flight compared with average airport costs in the region.

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

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

  • The close geographical location of Sofia creates opportunities for transfer of goods between continents
  • This advantage has been noticed by many world-known forwarders who have invested in a logistics 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.


  • Located in the eastern side of the capital, 10 km from the city centre
  • Convenient public transport
  • Subway extension in progress
  • 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
  • Operating hours: 24/7; (scheduled flights restricted between 23:00-06:00)
  • Terminals: Two terminals with total annual capacity of 4.4 million
    • Terminal 1: dedicated for Low-cost & charter carriers 
      Capacity: 1.8 million
      Area: 9,300 sq.m
      18 check-in desks, seven bus gates, two baggage claim carousels, full retail and service offered and parking for 400 cars in close proximity to the terminal.
    • Terminal 2: dedicated to full service carriers
      Capacity: 2.6 million
      Area 56, 500 sq. m
      34 check-in desks, seven boarding bridge gates, four bus gates, four baggage claim carousels, full retail and service offered including multi-storey parking for 850 cars.
  • Liberalised ground handling market
    • SOFIA AIRPORT EAD offers full service – passengers, baggage, ramp, cargo and mail

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