Significant incentives for airlines are also provided
Maintaining airport charges levels to support the airline industry, which continues to struggle due to the coronavirus pandemic, is the Sofia airport operator’s proposal for next year. The capital’s airport will remain with the lowest airport charges in Eastern Europe and one of the lowest in Europe.
“In these difficult times for the aviation sector, the Sofia Airport Operator is looking for the best options to offer airlines to maintain their operating costs low,” said Jesus Caballero, CEO of SOF Connect. “Driven by the idea of stimulating traffic and building strategic partnerships with our customers, we plan to introduce various incentive discounts that will give more options to travellers and contribute to the economic development of the region.”
All airlines that in 2022 reach at least 70% of the number of flights operated in 2019 will be entitled for a landing fee discount. The highest discount of 15% will be for those that reach or exceed 90% of their air traffic in 2019. Other incentives offered by SOF Connect include 99% discount of the landing fee for long-haul flights; discount on parking charges for based carriers; discounts on passenger fees for transfer passengers, and more.
Keeping the low charges unchanged and the incentive programs will result in significant losses for the concessionaire of the capital’s airport. The financial deficit in 2022 will exceed EUR 32 million. “Our shareholder has agreed to cover the projected 2022 deficit. We are hopeful that we will be able to agree with the airlines and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation Administration on a mechanism that will allow SOF Connect to smoothly recover the long-term financial deficit in order to support the investment plan for the airport. This will balance the effect on future airport charges and will not increase the financial burden on our customers,” explained Jesus Caballero.
The airport operator also continues to work hard to improve the passenger experience. Both terminals now have COVID-19 laboratories operating for take-off or landing testing. Restrooms are being gradually upgraded with new innovative designs and touch less water and soap sensors. One is already in use at Terminal 2. The interiors of the terminal buildings are to be refurbished and new retail spaces will be created to offer a greater variety of products.