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Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:48 am

Balkan Bulgarian.

Thu Nov 30, 2000 8:24 am

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?
Posts: 96
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2000 6:03 pm

RE: Balkan Bulgarian.

Thu Nov 30, 2000 6:48 pm

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.

Posts: 1224
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 1999 8:56 pm

RE: Balkan Bulgarian.

Fri Dec 01, 2000 11:06 pm


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.

Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:09 am

Just To Correct Some Mistakes From Above

Sat Dec 23, 2000 7:18 am

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.

RE: Just To Correct Some Mistakes From Above

Sat Dec 23, 2000 8:54 am

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.
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2000 11:35 am

How's LZ Now?

Sat Dec 23, 2000 9:01 am

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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