Last week about 500 Russian tourists got stuck on the Varna and Bourgas airports after the Bulgaria Air company cancelled charter flights for Alma Tour Air, a subsidiary company of Alma Tour. According to Bulgaria Air the flights were cancelled due to debt of Alma Tour Air of 7 million bulgarian levs owed to the flight operator, which is about 5 million USD, or about 150 million Russian rubles, and the tourists should turn to the tour operator for issues related to the cancelled flights.
After a short hesitation the tour operator started handing out food, drinks and baby supplies on the airport and accommodated the tourists to hotels.
The crisis between the two Bulgarian companies prompted the reaction of the Bulgarian regulators an the Russian government, who sent officials to handle the situation. A Bulgarian government official said the government can compensate the tourists, but threatened the two companies with revocation of their operation permits unless they resolve the crisis by their-selves. It also sent the government aircraft to transport children, elderly, ill people and pregnan women. About 80 people were transported to Moscow.
On 11th of September 2011, Sunday, in a TV interview, an official of the Bulgaria Air said that all blocked Russian tourists will be transported. It is expected that part of the tourists will have to stay until Monday or Tuesday.
Some of the tourists left Bulgaria by using other airlines at expense of their local travel agencies.
An investigation of the Bulgarian law enforcement authorities is under way.
In the meanwhile the Turkish Airlines started an aggressive TV advertisement campaign.
Alma Tour Fly Ltd. is registered in the Commercial Register of the Bulgarian Registration Agency with a capital of 5000 BGN. The yearly report for year 2010 shows an overall deterioration of of the short-term financial status of the company compared to the status for 2009. It might be a result of the decision leasing of two airplanes.
The mother company, Alma Tour – BG AD is one of the biggest Bulgaria tour operators, founded back in 1991. It has subsidiaries in many countries.
Bulgaria Air is the national air transporter of the Republic of Bulgaria.