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First Tourists For Summer 2008 Season Land In Bourgas

The first group of 74 foreign tourists for the new summer season arrived at Bourgas airport aboard a low-cost Sterling airlines plane from Copenhagen on March 30, Bourgas city hall said in a statement.

After receiving a hearty welcome at the airport, they continued to their destination, the Slunchev Bryag (Sunny Beach) resort.

The airports in Bulgaria's Black Sea cities of Varna and Bourgas processed more than 3.4 million passengers last year, according to data provided by Germany's Fraport, which owns the majority stake in the company that holds a 35-year concession on the two airports.

Bourgas airport processed a record-high 1.95 million passengers in 2007, a 7.3 per cent increase year-on-year, whereas Varna's 1.5 million passengers showed a 2.6 per cent drop from the previous year.

To date, Bourgas airport has contracts with 63 air companies, eight of them launching flights for the first time this eyar - Air Berlin, Air Mediterranee, Air Baltic Corporation, Edelweissair, Latcharter Airlines, Swiss Sun, Seagle Air and Lviv Airlines. The airport has posted a 16 per cent rise in the number of flights booked since the turn of the year, compared with the same period in 2007, Bourgas city hall said. Airport officials forecast a tangible hike in the number of tourists coming from Russia, Czech Republic, UK and Germany.

Fraport's two Bulgarian international airports accounted for 4.4 per cent of the total 75.6 million passengers processed by the company last year, with the Frankfurt international airport alone serving 54.1 million.

The consortium between Fraport and Bulgarian firm BM Star won the 35-year concession in 2006, pledging to invest 403 million euro in new terminals, expansion and equipment over that period. Earlier in March, Varna-based industrial group TIM received permission from Bulgaria's Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) to acquire BM Star's parent company.