Bulgarian MEP Cautions about Luggage Mafia at Sofia AirportBusiness | July 6, 2011, Wednesday // 13:12| views
Bulgarian liberal MEP Antoniya Parvanova has raised the alarm over luggage mafia operating at Sofia Airport. Photo by BGNES
There is indisputable evidence of systematic thefts taking place at Sofia Airport, said MEP Antoniya Parvanova after notifying Tuesday the European Parliament about cases of broken into suitcases and stolen luggage at the Sofia Airport.
According to Parvanova, the matter involves an organized crime group that has been operating at the airport for years and probably sells the stolen items through an established illegal channel.
The Bulgarian liberal MEP said she had received numerous signals for such infringements, including from insurance companies which had to pay compensations.
She further revealed that she and her colleagues had also fallen victim to this scheme.
Parvanova informed that she had had to part ways with a stolen watch, items from her mother's personal belongings, documents, etc.
"All interesting things get stolen, starting from hair dryers to goods worth over BGN 20 000", Bulgaria's representative to the European Parliament told 24 Hours daily.
Parvanova cited a rumor that, in order to land a job at the airport, one had to pay several thousand leva under the table.
On Tuesday, the liberal MEP called for a temporary suspension of Sofia Airport EAD's service rights, emphasizing that there was no need to close the airport for the purpose.
Sofia Airport EAD was issued a ground handling services license in 2007.
"Sofia Airport has no responsibility for the luggage serviced by other ground operators. Ground handling services at Sofia Airport are carried out by four operators- Sofia Airport EAD, Swissport Bulgaria, Goldair Handling Bulgaria and Bulgaria Air, the last one executing aircraft ground handling by itself", the airport said in a statement.
If Sofia Airport has its license revoked, air traffic will be practically paralyzed because it works with 65 carriers, while the other two service a total of 15.
Since the beginning of 2011, a total of 10 complaints have been registered concerning unauthorized interference with luggage on the part of Sofia Airport as a ground operator.
While norms allow for 3 to 5 complaints per 1000 passengers, Sofia Airport has registered 2 per 10 000.
As little as 1/3 of all complaints concern the state-owned operator, according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity.
Bulgarian Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski has said that he has ordered an inquiry into the reportedly rising number of illegal interference with passengers' luggage at Sofia Airport.