Current Market Trends
Subsector Focus: Helicoptors
Population: 7.3 million
GDP USD: USD 51 billion
Currency: Lev l
The total market for aviation, runway systems and air traffic control equipment and services in Bulgaria until 2015 is estimated at approximately USD 200 million.
The growth in this market is influenced by the ICAO, IATA, IASA, EASA, Eurocontrol, ECAC, Open Sky, Common European Sky and Functional Airspace Block agreements and requirements for sustainable development, quality improvements, safety and security upgrades and compliance to international standards.
The end user market includes five international airports, the Aviation Administration (CAA), the Air Traffic Services Authority (ATSA), 20 major licensed air operators and services companies licensed to provide ground-handling activities.
Airports with international status are: Sofia, Varna, Bourgas, Plovdiv and Gorna Oryahovitza. The overall tendency is to prepare all of them for privatization by means of concessions. Bourgas and Varna have undergone this procedure and are now run under concession by Fraport Twin Star Airport Management.
Since the end of May 2012, Sofia Airport is certified according to ISO requirements receiving both ISO 9001:2008 (Quality management) and ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental management) certificates.
Sofia Airport’s future infrastructure plans include the construction of new taxiways, aiming at aircraft movement optimization and reducing taxiing time after landing and before take-off, the extension of the apron area, the delivery and installation of two additional passenger boarding bridges, and some interior re-organization, such as Terminal 2 passenger gallery extension and building new bus exits, increasing the space for commercial purposes.
Plovdiv Airport and Gorna Oryahovitza Airport are on the Ministry of Transport’s plans for privatization through concessions: www.mtitc.government.bg.
There are two active domestic airports - Primorsko (on the Black Sea coast) and Lesnovo (close to Sofia). They are owned by the private company “Albena” JSC and are managed by its daughter company Intersky JSC. Both airports operate charter flights, mainly during the tourist season.
At the end of 2012, the Air Traffic Services Authority (ATSA) commissioned the new air traffic control tower and is looking at upgrading its navigation equipment in view of the new Functional Airspace Block Agreement’s (FAB) development plans.
The Bulgarian aviation market is supplied almost entirely by imports.
The Bulgarian Civil Aviation market abides by EU procurement law as well as the basic operational principles of ICAO, IATA, IASA, EASA, Eurocontrol, ECAC, Open Sky, Common European Sky and Functional Airspace Block agreements.
A basic applicable market entry strategy is through an authorized agent or distributor.
The national air carrier, Bulgaria Air, has strategic partnership agreement with Lufthansa Technik, which plays a critical role in performing its investment plans for upgrade and modernization.
The latest available statistics show that there are 20 licensed air operators in Bulgaria. The total number of aircraft is 60 and all of them have valid “CofA” (Certificate of Airworthiness) code. The total number of large aircraft (over 5,700 kg) is 38 with a valid “CofA” code. The total number of small aircraft (below 5,700 kg) is 13 with a valid “CofA” code. Separately there are 55 light jets up to 5.7 tons, 30% of which are second hand.
The fleet consists of the following type and category by alphabetical ranking: Airbus 319, 320, ATR, BAe-146, Boeing 737, BE20, Cessna, CE-550, CL60, CL64, L-410, MD 80, Enstrom 480B and Embraer.
Current Market Trends
In 2013, two brand new passenger terminals were completed at Varna and Bourgas airports with capacity to accommodate 1.8 million and 2.7 million passengers, respectively. Also completed was the rehabilitation of Varna’s airport runway and the adjacent taxiways, construction of a new ATC and a new cargo building, and the extension of the water supply and treatment system.
Since August 2013, all passengers at Varna airport arrive at the new passenger terminal. The total investment of the concessionaire at the airport terminal and related infrastructure is over 75 million lev (ROE 1.4 Bulgarian leva= USD 1). The new passenger terminal at Varna Airport covers an area of about 20,000 square meters with 25 check-in counters.
In 2011, Plovdiv Airport underwent upgrades and modernization and reached capacity of approximately 100,000 passengers. This number will probably increase as the airport’s policy has been to attract low cost carriers and serve as an “optional receiving airport” to Sofia airport in cases of bad weather.
At present Sofia’s airport has spare capacity in terms of existing terminal buildings and runway, but as demand grows there will be a need to increase that capacity. Terminal (passenger and cargo) capacity is likely to run out before the runway capacity. This project will increase the annual capacity by 200,000 passengers from the current 2.6 million. It is a self-financed project which is worth 2.0 million levs (ROE 1.4 Bulgarian leva= USD 1).
The overall number of passengers at Sofia Airport in 2012 was approximately 3.2 million, increasing to 3.5 million passengers in 2013. Overall cargo traffic amounted to 6.3 tons and 1.6 tons of mail.
In 2013, Sofia airport completed a USD 3.5 million tender for the upgrade of its checked and carry-on baggage scanners. Another tender is expected to be initiated for the old terminal, which is home to the low-cost air carriers.
The Gorna Oryahovitza airport is on the list for of concessions, while Rousse airport might be transferred for further decision on its ownership status to the regional government. One seasonal airport, located at the Black Sea coast, Balchik Airfield, was incorporated in one pool with Sofia Airport and both will be prepared for concessions as well.
Intersky, the daughter company of “Albena” JSC recently announced investment plans for each of its two domestic airports, Lesnovo (close to Sofia) and Primorsko (at the Black sea coast) of approximately 2.5 to 3.0 million BGN (ROE USD 1 = 1.4 BGN) for the extension of the existing runway at Primorsko Airport to allow for larger aircraft of 5.7 tons to land. Lesnovo Airport is trying to find a reasonable solution to the adjacent urban infrastructure before continuing with its extension design plans and upgrade.
As a rule, BulATSA is upgrading its ATC equipment on a regular basis. At the end of 2012, the Air Traffic Services Authority (ATSA) commissioned the new air traffic control tower. At the end of 2013, ATSA opened a tender for the upgrade of its radar and its navigation equipment in view of the new Functional Airspace Block Agreement’s (FAB) development plans.
Demand is estimated to be highest for airport baggage handling and screening equipment, ground handling equipment and services, air traffic control equipment and related services, for services related to airport operation activities, to cargo handling outsourcing and management, runway systems improvement, and safety and security equipment.
Major competitors include but are not limited to Smith-Heimann (Germany), Nuctech (China), Thales (France); Indra (Spain); Selex (Italy); Eldis (Czeck Republic), Airbus, Thales (France) etc.
Subsector Focus: Helicopters
Bulgaria’s helicopter fleet consists of large helicopters (over 3,175 kg) type Mi-8, six of which have a valid “CofA” code. There are a total number of three small helicopters (below 3,175 kg) type BO105 and SA 365N1 with a valid “CofA” code.
Several private operators purchased Gulfstream, Augusta, Enstrom and Bell helicopters, which depending on the onboard equipment can be used for different purposes like agriculture, firefighting, etc.
The Bulgarian civil aviation market is governed by the ECAC, ICAO, IATA, IASA, EASA, Eurocontrol, Open Sky and Common European Sky agreements and requirements for sustainable development, quality improvements, safety and security upgrades and compliance to international standards.
These agreements refer to the applicable and required certificates of conformity (documents required by the beneficiary authorities, evidencing US companies’ certificate of good standing, certificate of tax clearance, and proof of solvency); and food and film safety certificates (required for scanning and X-ray security equipment).
May 2016 • Plovdiv, Bulgaria • www.hemusbg.org
The Exhibition is biannual and is organized jointly by the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism of Republic of Bulgaria on the territory of International Fair Plovdiv.
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