First-class upgrade to Bulgaria’s international gateway

Sofia Airport’s airport facilities are today the match of any in Europe, following completion in 2006 of a new passenger terminal building and related infrastructure. A new runway was also added to expand overall capacity.

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Air travel passengers getting around Sofia Airport more comfortably Air travel passengers getting around Sofia Airport more comfortably

“Business is booming at our renovated airport, no doubt thanks in great part to our attractive new terminal and other passenger-friendly facilities completed recently.”
Plamen Stanchev, Executive Director of Sofia Airport

Long in the planning, the airport modernisation and expansion works were designed to cater for soaring growth in Bulgaria’s air traffic and to prepare the nation for accession to the EU. They have also provided facilities that bring the airport up to international safety and security standards, as laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

New terminal

Sofia Airport was built in the 1940s some 10 km from the city centre. Despite several extensions over the next few decades, it struggled to cope with growing air traffic and passenger numbers.

Planning for the new terminal began in the 1990s, before the nation was even considered for entry to the EU. A contract was signed in December 2003 for a major project intended to bring Sofia Airport into the 21st Century.

The new passenger terminal building and related infrastructure (aircraft parking aprons, taxiways and car parking) were 37% financed by the Cohesion Fund, with the remainder financed by the European Investment Bank and Bulgarian national funds. The new parallel runway, not part of the Cohesion Fund project, was co-funded by the Kuwait Fund.

Construction work began in January 2004. The new runway and some taxiways were completed in mid-2006 and Terminal 2 was formally inaugurated on 27 December 2006. An extension was also granted until 2008, for completion of landscaping work to enhance the airport grounds.

The Austrian company Strabag International GmbH built the terminal. The designer and supervising engineer was NACO (Netherlands Airport Company).

Room for expansion

The ultramodern new Sofia Airport is one of the first projects approved for Cohesion Fund assistance by the European Commission in October 2000. It is also the first major project under that fund to be completed, at the time the upgraded facilities were opened in December 2006.

The new passenger terminal can handle 2.6 million passengers a year, 20 aircraft movements an hour, and 26 000 tonnes of cargo a year. In 2008, the airport’s two terminals handled over 3.2 million passengers, one third up on the number two years before. Further strong traffic growth is expected as a result of Bulgaria’s accession to the EU in 2007, as trade and tourism grow and bring economic benefits to Sofia and beyond.


Draft date

17/12/2009