Travel market experts assess the transformation of Moscow – Sofia route from ‘purely scheduled’ to a charter one differently. We remind you that at the end of December three charter programs are planned to be operated between the two capitals. One of them is consolidated by ICS Travel Group in co-operation with Atlant-Soyuz, the second on will be operated by Airlines – 400 in co-operation with PAC Group and Skyway, the third charter program consolidated by Erzog will be operated by KD-avia. Furthermore, Skyway and PAC Group intend to operate flights by TU-204, Erzog – by Boeing – 737, while ICS Travel Group has not announced the type of aircraft yet. Starting from January 1st 2007 there might be a ban on flights to Bulgaria by IL-86, while it is the main aircraft type in Atlant-Soyuz park.
On the one hand there is an opinion on the travel market that Sofia can easily compete with Plovdiv provoking outflow of tourists from this popular destination. Thus, Valentina Fabina, Head of the Bulgarian Department of Skyway, does not doubt that ‘the flights to Sofia will be in higher demand than the ones to Plovdiv. The city is located more conveniently to ski resorts. Besides, roads are better that will stimulate cheaper rates for transfers’. Nadejda Filina, Head of the Bulgarian Department of PAC Group, added: ‘the charters to Sofia will be operated once in 10-11 days, while tours of such duration are in the highest demand’.
On the other hand, travel market experts believe that the flights to both destinations will be operated at their full capacity not provoking any competition between them. Moreover, they point out that certain changes can be adopted to the flight schedule if necessary. Alexander Shirokov, Deputy Director of Erzog, commented on the situation as follows: ‘the Bulgarian market is developing tremendously. But in case of excess of air traffic volume to Sofia it will be easy to cancel an excessive flight'. However, some travel market experts who are not supporting the ‘Sofian boom’ believe that the agiotage around the Bulgarian capital is exaggerated. Thus, Alexey Kashirsky, Director of the Moscow office of Neva and the first Deputy Director of Neva, stated as follows: ‘I can not find any advantages in flights to Sofia. Time advantage over Plovdiv is not that considerable indeed. I believe that Aeroflot long-lasting monopoly on the route played its role. As soon as charters were allowed, many travel market players rushed into the destination’.
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