Traffic is recovering slowly from Covid crisis
The capital’s airport served a total of 3 364 151 passengers in the past year 2021, an increase of 14.5% compared to 2020, but 52.7% less than the pre-pandemic year 2019. Covid-19 hit severely the aviation industry and the numbers show the slow recovery of the sector. While according to Eurostat, the European statistical office, Bulgaria is among the EU countries with a smaller decline in flights at the end of 2021, the figures for Sofia Airport show that the passenger recovery is less than 50% compared to 2019, when the capital’s airport served over 7 million passengers.
Passenger traffic on international scheduled routes increased by 12.9% compared to 2020, while domestic passengers grew by 50%. If, however, we have to compare the data with 2019, here again we see a serious decline of 55.1% for international passengers and 30.8% for those travelling on domestic routes.
Aircraft take-offs and landings at Sofia Airport last year reached 40 771, an increase of 13.4% compared to 2020, but compared to 2019 we again have a decrease of 33.6% year-on-year.
The volume of cargo and mail handled in 2021 decreased by 8.3% compared to 2020 and amounted to 21 141 t. Here too there is a decrease compared to the pre-pandemic year 2019 when the handled cargo and mail shipments were 23 987 t and the decrease was 11.9%.
The top destinations with the most number of passengers in 2021 were London – 400 856, Varna – 175 192 and Frankfurt – 142 999.
Correspondingly, the countries to which the most passengers travelled from Sofia Airport were Germany – 506 838, United Kingdom – 467 275 and Italy – 322 482.
In 2022 SOF Connect, the operator of Sofia Airport, is retaining airport charges to support the airline industry and thus they remain the lowest in Eastern Europe and one of the cheapest in Europe. This will also provide opportunities to open new destinations, increase flight frequencies on the existing ones and attract new airlines to operate from Sofia Airport in 2022.