As spring fast approaches, Bulgaria Air is pondering the next steps it needs to take as a part of its fleet modernization.
According to the Bulgarian national flag carrier’s CEO Yanko Georgiev, a decision on which aircraft Bulgaria Air wants to buy could happen before the summer. While talking with international aviation news website AIN online, Georgiev said:
“Negotiations are on-going with at least two providers of single-aisle aircraft.” “We would like to evolve to a single type fleet to achieve cost reductions and optimize processes like pilot training and maintenance.”
Bulgaria Air wants to have a fleet of 15 aircraft
Currently, the privately-owned airline operates a fleet of four Embraer E190s and six Airbus A319/320s on a network of 22 destinations in Europe, Russia, and the Middle East.
Georgiev added: “The aim is to grow the fleet to possibly 15 narrow-bodied aircraft over the next four to five years”
An increase in aircraft would support the planned growth of Bulgaria Air on scheduled flights and help to expand its Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance (ACMI) business along with charter operations.
Bulgaria Air operates as a feeder for Air Italy
Following the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX last March after two deadly crashes, Bulgaria Air signed its first ACMI agreement with Air Italy to cover the Italian airlines three grounded 737s. This agreement later led to Bulgaria Air signing a codeshare agreement to act as a feeder airline for Air Italy’s five destinations in North America from its base at Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) in northern Italy. When speaking about the airlines ACMI business and overall growth, Georgiev said:
“We have a quite active charter flying program in summer, but winter is the low season. We are a small airline and cannot afford to park our aircraft for a couple of months, so we will for sure further develop the ACMI business and diversify our model.
“Our passenger traffic has been growing on average by three to four percent per year since the privatization of the company and we anticipate continuing this growth.” “Bulgaria is becoming more attractive for tourists and the country’s economy is growing as well.”
Somewhat surprisingly, given that nearly all short and medium-haul airlines have cut back on their offerings, Bulgaria Air operates using a full-service business model, something that Georgiev was keen to point out saying:
“We are one of the few European airlines still offering a full-service on-board on short and medium-haul flights.”
What aircraft should Bulgaria Air buy?
Now taking a look at Bulgaria Air as an outsider and given the fact that Georgiev said he would like to operate a single type of aircraft to streamline operations, what options does Bulgaria Air have? Firstly, I think we can rule out the Boeing 737 MAX no matter how aggressively the Seattle planemaker tries to market the plane to potential buyers. The same goes for Embraer E-Jet family of aircraft which leaves just Airbus as the most likely contender.
Despite being an A320 pilot, Georgiev has to recognize how the Airbus A220 is revolutionizing narrow-body aircraft. Now considering Bulgaria Air wants to continue to operate as a full-service airline, the A220 was built with passenger comfort in mind. The plane offers wider than normal seats, larger windows and more room in the overhead bins, making it feel more like a wide-body jet.
Compared to other aircraft of its type, the A220 is extremely fuel-efficient and has a range of 3,700 miles, which is more than enough to cover the Bulgaria Air network.
What new aircraft do you think Bulgaria Air should buy? Please let us know in the comments section.