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 Sofia Airport passenger traffic hits record-high in 2010, fr

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PostSubject: Sofia Airport passenger traffic hits record-high in 2010, fr   Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:31 am

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Sofia Airport passenger traffic hits record-high in 2010, freight still low

The number of passengers at Bulgaria's Sofia Airport in 2010 was higher than in the pre-crisis 2008, but cargo traffic registered increased only slightly, far from the growth seen before 2009, the airport said.

The airport handled 3.3 million passengers in 2010, up by 5.2 per cent and two per cent compared with 2009 and 2008, respectively, while the volume of cargo and postal shipments was just more than 15 300 tons, about 200 tons more than in 2009.

The airport's net profit in 2010 was about 14 million leva, unchanged from the previous year.

Earlier, the airport company said that the reason for the projected unsatisfactory earnings was the fact that it lost its dominant position as the sole ground operator in the country. Currently, such passenger and aircraft services in Bulgaria are also provided by Swissport and Greek Goldair Handling.

The result was also attributed to transferring half of the company's rental income directly into the state budget as of July 2010 and the one million leva loss from 165 cancelled flights following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland in spring 2010.

According to the airport, the improvement in passenger numbers was bolstered by the industry's recovery from the crisis.

Most of the air carriers serving regular flights to Sofia reported increases in passenger traffic, with Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air recording the highest growth of 40 per cent in 2010, followed by Austrian Airlines with a 26 per cent increase. Among other top performers were AeroSvit, Bulgaria Air, Tarom, Air France, British Airways and El Al.

In 2010, the airport also started servicing flights of three new low-cost carriers -- Austrian FlyNiki, Denmark's Cimber Sterling and Turkey's Pegasus. Among newcomers was Russia's Ural Airlines, which started regular flights between Sofia and Yekaterinburg. Meanwhile, no-frill carrier easyJet decided in November to suspend flights to Milan and to suspend the Sofia-Madrid flight as of March 2011, while rival Wizz Air terminated its flights to Varna.

Sofia Airport projects that the pace of passengers and cargo growth this year will be almost the same as that in 2010.

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