Hungarian airline Wizzair will become Bulgaria's first low-cost operator when it starts flying from Sofia to Budapest this autumn, it said on Thursday.
The UK-registered carrier, which launched operations in Poland and Hungary last spring under a Hungarian license, plans to fly passengers from Bulgaria three times a week for as low as EUR19 (USD$23) without tax one-way as of September 18.
"Our aim is to become the single biggest airline in this country in three years, " Wizzair Chief Executive Joszef Varadi told reporters.
The company, which flies to 17 destinations in Europe, said it has raised EUR34 million (USD$41.2 million) in funding since its start and has a fleet of six Airbus A320s.
Bulgarian Transport Minister Nikolai Vassilev welcomed the new air carrier and said he hoped more low cost operators would follow to make air travel more accessible for the EU candidate country's 8 million people.
Bulgaria has yet to officially join the European "open skies" agreement allowing air carriers to travel between EU members without regulation.
It relies on bi-lateral pacts between countries, but this regime would end, at the latest, when it joins the Union, which is expected in 2007.