Bulgaria’s Transport Ministry has extended the tender for the concession of Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport as no bidders have showed up within the original deadline.
The new deadline for submitting offers for the underdeveloped airport in the center of Northern Bulgaria, near Veliko Tarnovo, is October 31, 2011, the Transport Ministry announced on its website.
The same deadline has been set for the concession of the cargo terminal in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv Airport.
The news that there has been no interest in the concession of the Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport comes just as a Facebook group with some 2000 British and Bulgarian members has rallied in support of the development of the airport.
The group entitled "We want Cheap flights from Gorna Oryhavitsa" was started in March 2011 as soon as the Bulgarian government approved a procedure for offering on concession the Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport, which is right outside the city of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria's medieval capital.
The Veliko Tarnovo region is known for its tourist attractions, which is also the home of a high number of British expats.
In 2010, the Gorno Oryahovitsa Airport serviced about 1000 flights, primarily of small training airplanes. A concessionaire would be expected to repair the runway and the passenger terminal, and to provide modern navigation and communication equipment.
In 2010, the airport near Veliko Tarnovo had revenues totaling BGN 780 000, and a profit of BGN 20 000. In the first quarter of 2011, its profit amounted to BGN 13 000.
The development of the Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport is one of the goals of the Transport Ministry, and is included in the Strategy for the Development of Bulgaria's Transport Infrastructure until 2015.
The proposed term of the concession is 35 years and the concessionaires will be determined through an open procedure.
The Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport is located right near Gorna Oryahovitsa, a town of 30 000, and Veliko Tarnovo, a district city of 70 000, and a bustling tourism center. It is also close to the cities of Pleven, Ruse, Gabrovo, and Lovech. It is located (air distance) 200 km away from Sofia, 180 km from Varna, and 145 km away from Bucharest.
Since 2008-2009, the Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport has not served regular passenger flights but only training and freight flights and occasional charter flights. It had only 941 passengers in 2007.
The airport was set up in 1925 for the use of the Bulgarian Air Force. In 1948, it opened a direct passenger line to Sofia, the third one in the country. The current infrastructure of the airport was constructed in the 1970s and the 1980s, and completed in the mid 1990s.
In 1995, it became the fifth international airport in Bulgaria, after Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas, with customs and border police units. The economic hardship in Bulgaria in the following years, however, have affected its functioning.
In a similar effort to develop Bulgaria's airports, in February 2011, the Cabinet started procedures for finding private operators of the cargo terminal of the southern Plovdiv Airport, and of the civilian airport Shtraklevo near the Danube city of Ruse.