Wednesday, 21 November 2012

New Bulgarian airport and transportation hub of South East Europe

So why invest in Sofia airport when the natural choice of location for an all-weather and all-year round airport does not lie in a valley?

new airport Bulgaria
Sofia airport
Bulgaria's Sofia Airport is set to demolish its old Terminal 1 building complex, seeking to construct a new terminal on the same location within five years, Sofia Airport CEO Veselin Peykov has announced. In October 2012, Sofia Airport serviced a total of 285,216 arriving and departing passengers, 1,400 more than in the same month last year. The highest growth in the number of transported passengers was registered by the airlines NIKI (Air Berlin), Austrian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Olympic Air, Air France, Aeroflot and Bulgaria Air.
Cargo flights reported some 10% increase, compared to last October and flights on domestic routes registered a 29% growth. In October 2012, Sofia Airport handled 1,507 tonnes of cargo and parcels, 1% more than in the same month of last year. Specialised cargo flights transported 20% more cargo than in October 2011. Cargo companies specifically look for infrastructure hubs, road, rail and air.

It has also been announced that a new “mega” toll-road will be constructed from Svilengrad on the border with Turkey and Greece to Ruse on the south bank of the River Danube bordering Romania. Qatar has already pledged support for the construction of this North-South highway and furthermore, during a visit to Veliko Tarnovo this year Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, said publicly that the airport will be revived with the restoration of the cargo terminal in order to export meat to Qatar. He was quoted as saying “exporting meat products from Gorna Oryahovitsa and as a consequence develop a container terminal, this would protect and stimulate further new developments and regeneration”.
bulgaria airport in the centre of South East Europe
Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport located North of Veliko Tarnovo
The Mayor of Veliko Tarnovo, Daniel Panov, has said “there have been multiple queries and interest in the airport” and colleague the Mayor of Gorna Oryahovitsa, Dobromir Dobrev, are both confident that by the end of the new concession extension period (3rd December this year) there will be a positive step in the right direction.
The pertinent details of the concession are:-
• The concession site is an airport for public use in Gorna Oryahovitza, including;
airport concession Bulgaria
A large amount of Real Estate and land
included in the concession's territory
• Concession territory with a total area of 2,115,405 sq. m., consisting of land property № 16359.506.1 with an area of 2,093,523 sq. m.; № 16359.506.2 with an area of 2,948 sq. m.; No. 16359.506.3 with an area of 8,586 sq. m. and No. 16359.506.4 with an area of 10,348 sq. m., all located in the locality of Ashova, according to the scheme and coordinates that are an integral part of the tender documents and concession contract.
• The buildings, located in the territory under item 1.1. with identifiers under the cadastre registry, as follows: from No. 16359.506.1.18 to No. 16359.506.1.21; No. 16359.506.1.30; from No. 16359.506.1.34 to No. 16359.506.1.36, located in property No. 16359.506.1 and others, as per the tender documentation and the concession agreement
• Facilities and equipment as per the tender documentation and the concession agreement 9.2. To the subject of concession are also included the buildings, facilities and equipment to be built and/or installed by the concessionaire at their own risk and using their own funds in a manner described in the concession agreement • Type of procedure: open procedure
• Amount of guarantee for participation in the procedure and conditions for its payment or delivery: value: 50000 EUR
• Validity of tenders: 360 calendar days after the date of submission of the tender
• Place and date for receipt of tender documents for the procedure: Location: Republic of Bulgaria, Sofia 1000, Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, 9 “Diakon Ignatiy” str., rooms 1003 and 1004
• Date: 30.11.2012 Hour: 17:00 hours
• Price and method of payment for the tender documents: Price in figures: 5,200
• Language of the tenders: Bulgarian
• Place and date for receipt of tenders: Republic of Bulgaria, Sofia 1000, Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, 9 “Diakon Ignatiy” str., rooms 1001
• Date: 03.12.2012 Hour: 17:00 hours
• Place and date of opening of tenders: Republic of Bulgaria, Sofia 1000, Ministry of Transport, Information Technologies and Communications, 9 “Diakon Ignatiy” str., hall No. 3
• Date: 06.12.2012 Hours: 10:00 hours

So getting back to Sofia; Peykov has told the Bulgarian National Television that constructing a new terminal in the place of the old one would save money. Noting that Terminal 1 has serviced tens of millions of passengers since it was opened in 1937, Peykov has explained that "times are different now" and a more modern terminal is necessary. He revealed that the new terminal would have the capacity to service some 5 million passengers per year, or twice as many as the airport's other existing terminal, Terminal 2. The new terminal is expected to have 16 to 18 passenger boarding bridges and a car parking lot consisting of several levels. The Sofia Airport should be offered on concession, Peykov has also stated. "We may even consider privatizing the whole airport. Private-owned airports exist in many places in Europe and around the world," the CEO has pointed out.

So I go back to my question, why invest in Sofia airport when the natural choice of location for an all-weather and all-year round airport does not lie in a valley? January 11th 2011, news; “Sofia Airport has experienced another difficult day with flights cancelled, delayed or redirected to different airports. Heavy fog has been in place over Sofia and much of Bulgaria for more than 36 hours now, as many regions in the country are being classified with Code Yellow status, according to Meteoalarm, the official website of Europe’s national weather services. The airport is operating with limited capacity and flights are departing and landing with significant delays. Flights to Vienna and Budapest have been grounded altogether, Bulgarian National Television reported on January 11 2011. Overnight, Bulgaria Air and Swiss Air flights were redirected to Varna and Bourgas airports instead because of poor visibility in Sofia”. 

This account is by no way an irregular occurrence, so why not invest in a new terminal at an airport in North Central Bulgaria? This airport (whose concession expires within 12 days) is adjacent to a new toll road with Asia-East Europe road haulage and adjacent to the biggest rail holding yard in Bulgaria and in the NATIONAL ERTMS DEPLOYMENT PLAN OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA, rail corridor 11, linking Greece, Turkey (corridor 10) and Romania.

bulgaria airport in the centre of South East Europe
De-icing a Russian Aeroflot Airbus,
this could be a regular site at Gorna Oryahovitsa airport 
Its weather is particularly favorable, needs little immediate investment, allegedly a “blind landing system” and de-icing equipment are the main components.
new bulgaria airport
Capable of handling the world's largest cargo planes

So I genuinely hope that someone out there will “think a little out of the box” and look at this golden opportunity and if necessary the government grant a further extension for the concession, whilst businesses and investors analyse the potential of Gorna Oryahovitsa airport and its exciting new infrastructure that will inevitably lead to this region being a transportation hub of South East Europe!

13 comments:

  1. I for one agree totally with Phils view and would be more than happy to see it happen. At a guess I would agree some thousands of foreigners here will also agree. Central Bulgaria is where a main airport should be any way. Logic should show that aprt from anything else. Sofia is so far out of the way for many living in the east of Bulgaria.

    An all year round airport is what we need here, not summers only. I'm going to try and forward Phils page to Boyko Borisov and Tsvetan Tsvetanov. It is handy having friends in high places in Bulgaria. makes for a much easier life and helps to get things done very fast. We have succeded to get severl traffic laws changed inside 1 month.... unbeliveable here. Aswell, elections are only just around the corner...

    Best wishes to all reading Phils plage.

    Tony

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  2. Well thank you "änimalthebeast", whoever you are for your constructive comments and support and good luck in trying to get this to people in high places!

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  3. You still banging away at this pipe dream Phil? Sofia airport probably wasn't located in the best place. However there is no sound business case for this airport. The population of Bulgaria is 7.4 million of which nearly 30% live in Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv and Bourgas - guess what; they all have an airport.

    Population of VT and Gabrovo = 0.128 million not even 2% (all figs rounded up and taken from 2011 census)

    NEVER going to happen. Keep up the fight though, there are irrational businessmen everywhere.

    (BTW - green text against grey is damned hard to read!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Now Kevin, no banging required! Sorry forgot to post it onto your FB timeline as well :-)
    Remember how Stansted started? As an air cargo airport and the airport was used by holiday charter operators wishing to escape the higher costs associated with operating from Heathrow and Gatwick. It developed into the UK's 3rd airport not due to population trends of Stansted Mountfichet and nearby Bishops Stortford but:-
    1) it was next to the newly constructed M11 taking traffic from London to East Anglia and South Yorkshire and the East Midlands
    2) it was on the Felixstowe, Colchester, road which traverses the country used by articulated lorries carrying containers from Felixstowe.

    key logistic routes and BAA developed it, now forced to sell it! Irrational behaviour if ever?

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  5. But Phil! Points one and two point out reasons for success; but they are not relevant to Gorna Oryahovitsa or Bulgaria!

    These are your words:

    "...that will inevitably lead to this region being a transportation hub of South East Europe!"

    Based on what? A sleepy provincial town (in European terms), is going to go head to head with Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Constanza (which is MASSIVE) Varna and Bourgas. It's not like VT is a centre for the production of FMCG's now is it? The infrastructure is shocking, it's decades by train and hours by road to a port.

    If you want to build a transport hub in Bulgaria, Ruse is the way to go - but even then it would be a minor player in the region and the airport that would service it would likely be in Romania - they're developing one 20km south of Bucharest.

    I understand it must be a right pain in the backside driving to Sofia every time you need a flight and maybe another couple of hundred other expats in the region but I think we'll be holidaying on Mars before we see international scheduled flights.

    I'd suggest investing in a pilot's licence and you could run a charter service from there in a light aircraft for the handful of people needing to get to Sofia/Varna/Plovdiv/Bourgas.

    (Actually that might not be the worst idea in the world. Where would you like to me to send my consultancy invoice?) ;)

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  6. Ah Kevin, you must have a vested interest in the proposed new terminal 1 in Sofia as a consultant?
    as my friend Rachel put it...."actually, far from this being the whim of a few hundred expats, there are solid business reasons to open up the north central to air freight and passenger flights. 600,000 people travel to other EU countries for work each year, from the VT region. 100,000 of these head to the UK. On average, 63,000 tourists visit VT EVERY MONTH - mainly from Russia, Turkey, UK, US and Japan. And fly, there are 2,000 expats in the Gorna region alone. Not to mention the thousands more scattered through VT, Pavlikeni, Sevlievo, Polski and Gabrovo districts. Some smart budget airline will look at the figures and open up routes to UK, Germany, Netherlands, Moscow and Istanbul".

    Looks like I'd better register a new airline called "Yantra Jet", now that;s an even better idea :)

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  7. Phil as a current comuter between the UK & VT, I would definately welcome a Centrally located airport. I know for sure it would open up the housing market for Brits in particular who are put off the VT area as a second home/holiday home due to the 3 hour drive from Sofia/Burgas/Varna airports. Financially for me it is cheaper to fly from Manchester to Sofia, hire a car and drive to VT rather than utilise the more expensive flights from Manchester to Varna/Burgas. If the aiport was opened up to passenger flights in Gorna Oryahovitsa I could save on rental car costs and taxi to my village (Samovodene). All in all given the amount of trips I make annually I would estimate savings of over 1k per anum on car rental alone. I know from talking to friends that are interested in holidays and even settling in BG that they are put off from the Central area of BG due to the lack of decent transport links. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out the economical benefits that a passenger/freight airport would bring to the region anyone who says differently could only be saying it due to potential financial losses from competition. It's a no brainer..decent transport links = investment which = employment which = prosperity. If you do set up Yantra Jet airlines, I will be first in the queue for a frequent flyer discount card!!!

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  8. Steve, read my latest blog for new developments!

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  9. G.O had about 40 yrs ago quite good connections to sofia. It might be succesfull again like there are in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium lots of airports operation with low coast carriers some even combined with militairy tasks.
    Knowing peoples mind, they will travel from Haskovo to G.O or Groningen to Eindhoven if the prices are managable, read, take the package and date u absolutely need.

    ReplyDelete
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