Bulgaria upgrades ageing airport to boost tourism


SOFIA – Bulgaria launched the upgrade of the airport of its second biggest city of Plovdiv on Monday in an attempt to lure tourists and boost cargo transport as the global economic downturn bites.

The Socialist-led government will spend 40 million levs ($26.44 million) to build a new terminal and almost double plane stands to unclog traffic and increase the airport’s capacity to 500,000 passengers annually.

“The modernisation of the airport will improve the transport and tourist opportunities in the region and will encourage airlines to open new destinations,” the transport ministry said.

Plovdiv’s airport, some 150 km southeast of Sofia, is a back-up airport for the capital.

Its upgrade is expected to be finished by June 15, ahead of planned general elections this summer.

Plovdiv is also a key airport for hundreds of holidaymakers who visit the Balkan country’s ski resorts in the southwest.

Bulgaria awarded a 35-year concession to Germany’s Fraport to run and operate its two Black Sea airports — the gateways to the country’s summer resorts — in 2006.