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Balkan Bulgarian.  
User currently offlinePearson From Indonesia, joined Jul 2010, 0 posts, RR: 0
Posted (15 years 6 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1622 times:

During the summer, I travelled from London-Heathrow to Sofia, Bulgaria, aboard Balkan Bulgarian, and a B737-300. Contrary to popular belief, the airline was incredibly efficient and the service was, quite easily, on par with, or perhaps even better than, other “standard” airlines. However, whilst the service was hospitably good, the food wasn’t quite so nice. Consisting of a variety of cheese and ham, I perhaps wisely chose not to eat the seemingly degrading food.

Having spent two days in Sofia sightseeing and the following two weeks as a volunteer in an orphanage in Plovdiv, I thought I’d book myself a return day-trip from Sofia to Varna, on the Black Sea coast. The newly delivered ATR-42 was acting as a replacement for the older AN-24, which normally operates the service. The service was, quite naturally, very good.

My return flight to LHR was scheduled to be aboard a LZ’s 735, however, probably due to increased demand, the TU-154 was used. Despite this, the service was, once again, worthy of praise.

In conclusion, there was, from personal experience, absolutely nothing wrong with this Eastern European airline, except, of course, the food.


PS. Has anyone else experienced this?

5 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineLH738 From Germany, joined Nov 2000, 97 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (15 years 6 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 1522 times:

In August, I flew with Air Via (Air Via is the charter airline from Balkan Bulgarian like Lufthansa/Condor). My trip was Stuttgart - Varna - Burgas (a 15 min flight in a TU-154 !!!!!!!!!!) and back Burgas - Varna - Stuttgart. All flights by TU-154.

1.) The food was also "below average".
2.) After take off the F/A started their beverage service. The passengers had to pay for any drink (water, coke, beer, ...). For lunch you got a drink that was free of charge! But many passengers thought that they would have to pay again, so they didn't order a drink.
On the return flight, they started with lunch and a free drink.
3.) The flight was a non-smoking flight. Some F/A smoked during take off and landing or even walked around.

Though 3.) I felt quite safe during the flight. A few days ago I read in a german travel agency magazin that Balkan Bulgarian has money loss.

User currently offlineAmir From Syria, joined Dec 1999, 1254 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (15 years 6 months 6 hours ago) and read 1520 times:


I have travelled twice with Balkan Airlines (LZ).
One of the flights was my lifetime flight! it was aboard a AN24 form Istanbul to Sofia (May 2000). The service was good for such an airline. Though i have to comment on the food again, it was not very good.

Balkan is still one of the ols eastern airlines that have difficulties catching up the developments after the fall of the iron curtain. Malev, LOT and Czek Airlines are way further. One of the headackes of Balakn is Sofia Airport. You Can't expect a buisness traveller not ever a normal coach traveller to connect there. If they keep on imporving their serivce to the main European destinations (Mainly 737 service) and improve the airport (or stress on that) they can catch up with the others.

Balkan is indeed in red figures, their bulk of revenue is generated by very low Yield passngers mainly by their middleast and european traffic, and their Network is everything but efficient. They still have too many destinations not served daily thus the operational Cost is to high. Some months ago there was a bid by a Israeli group (Zevi) to buy the majority of the carrrier, however i don't know about the outcome of that deal.


User currently offlineKsivanov From Bulgaria, joined Jan 2000, 25 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (15 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1475 times:

Air Via is not connected to Balkan Airlines at all. It's a private company set up in 1990.

Balkan was indeed bought by Zeevi Group of Israel who have a weird way of making it a more efficient airline  

Sofia Airport is now totally refurbished, larger and cleaner than before with border checks slightly faster than before.

Hope that helps.

User currently offlineJ. S. Pearson From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (15 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1470 times:

Indeed. I witnessed the modernisation of SOF's departure terminal which is, quite obviously, well overdue.

Incidentially, I didn't say Air VIA was in anyway connected with LZ.

User currently offlineGmunich From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 42 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (15 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1483 times:

How is Balkan doing now? Last time I flew them was in July 1999 aboard 735 LZ-BOB SOF-LHR. It was OK, nothing exceptional. But then they had all this action with Zeevi... And not being in Bulgaria, I missed on it. So, any thoughts on theit future fate? Or, will Hemus Air overtake their rights? Thanks!

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