Irish low-cost company Ryanair plans to open flights from Spain to Plovdiv in Bulgaria in the autumn of this year at the latest.
"Even though the company recently dropped plans for a line from the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv to Barcelona, Spain, a service between the two countries will be launched as early as this year," Doychin Anguelov, executive director of Plovdiv Airport, told business news provider Investor.bg.
"Tickets for the flights were on sale since December 2010 and demand was brisk," he said, attributing the great interest to the big community of Bulgarian immigrants in Spain, which totals 300,000.
The reason for the preliminary annulments of the new line was the termination of the five-year contract between Ryanair and the Barcelona Girona Airport.
The new Catalonian government did not approve the agreement between the carrier and the airport, which was announced at the end of 2010.
As a result, Ryanair annulled its flights from the Girona Airport to 18 destinations, including Plovdiv, London, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Ibiza, Madrid, Oslo.
Currently, Ryanair performs flights from Plovdiv Airport to Stansted Airport in London twice a week - on Tuesday and on Saturday. One-way fares start from GBP 32.99 including taxes. The flights provide easy access for Britons to the ski slopes of Bansko and Pamporovo.
The company will open a new twice-weekly service from Milan Bergano to Plovdiv, which will commence on May 7.
Plovdiv became even more attractive for air companies as of April 1, 2010, when its fees were sharply reduced and now stand three times lower that the fees at the airport in the capital Sofia. The low fees will be in force for two years.
Bulgaria, which attracted a number of low-cost carriers thanks to its accession to the European Union and fast economic growth in the years right after its entry, is expected to continue to see the expansion of their market share.