In the last month of the past year, Eurostat published airport traffic statistics covering nearly 150 airports in the EU based on annual data for 2017. Sofia Airport ranked 63rd in terms of passengers carried and Bulgaria is among the first five countries by growth of passengers carried.
In 2017, a total of 6.5 million passengers passed through Sofia Airport – a 30% growth on 2016. The highest number of passengers came from the European Union – 5.3 million. Passengers from non-EU countries totaled 820 000, and Bulgarians were some 270 000.
According to data at national level, Bulgaria is among the top five countries with the largest increase in passenger flows. With a total of 11 million passengers travelling through the local airports, Bulgaria recorded an increase of 19% in 2017. Slovenia is holding the number one position in terms of growth of passengers carried with a 20% growth, followed by Luxembourg, Estonia and the Czech Republic.
All EU member states registered an increase in terms of passengers carried. The number of passengers at European airports grew by 7% year-on-year in 2017 to more than 1 billion.
The rapid development of Sofia Airport is related both to the considerable expansion of the volume of low-cost carriers and the economic development in Bulgaria in general. For the last three years, a total of 42 new destinations have been introduced at Sofia Airport, including new flights to, among others, Ljubljana, Baku, Nice and Malaga. It is expected that a new Beijing-Sofia direct line will be opened by 2020. Furthermore, new direct flights are expected to be introduced at the airport in 2019. Two of them are offered by the low-cost carrier RyanAir, which will launch the new Sofia – Kiev and Sofia – Crete lines in April.