Special Flights to 'Rescue' Stranded Russian, Finnish Tourists from BulgariaTourism | September 12, 2011, Monday // 16:57| views
Bulgaria Air cancelled 4 flights booked by Alma Tour for Russia and Finland, due to what it claims is a EUR 3.5 M debt on the part of the tour operator, leaving 1 000 tourists stranded on the Black Sea coast. Photo by BGNES
The airline carriers responsible for the transportation of some 700 Russian and Finnish tourists in Bulgaria's southern Black Sea city of Burgas will be returned with special flights, Bulgarian officials have promised.
The flights will be neither regular nor charter, the Bulgarian Transport Ministry has explained, according to the Dnevnik daily. In order for the flights to be carried out, the Ministry will grant the airline carriers all necessary permits.
The measure was declared after Bulgaria's Deputy Transport Minister Kamen Kichev met with representatives of the Russian Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviation).
The airline carriers are yet to announce whether they are willing to transport the stranded tourists.
Earlier on Monday, it was reported that hotel owners in Bulgaria are considering inviting the tourists on a free vacation in June next year.
500 Russian and 180 Finish tourists were stranded at the Black Sea airports of Burgas and Varna after Bulgaria Air, Bulgaria's national airline carrier and heir to Balkan Airlines, cancelled Friday and Saturday 4 flights to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Helsinki that were booked by the Bulgarian tour operator Alma Tour, who according to the airline owe them some EUR 3.5 M.
Part of them were able to return home on a flight paid for by the Russian tour operator and on the Bulgarian government plane, ordered by Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov to be flown to Burgas to aid in the transportation of the neediest, such as children, pregnant women and people who might be ill. The craft with a capacity of 90 transported about 200 of the initially nearly 1000 tourists Saturday.
In order to rescue the otherwise very strong tourist season, hotel owners in Bulgaria's largest summer resort Sunny Beach decided to accommodate, free of charge, the tourists still stranded in Burgas.
Among conflicting reports on the exact number of tourists, remaining in Bulgaria, it is also unclear how they will get home.
According to the largest private TV channel bTV about 400 tourists, including 170 from Finland still could not board a flight home as of late Sunday evening.
Bulgaria Air announced mid-day Sunday that it is resuming flights to Russia and the Baltic Republics for tourists of Alma Tour Fly, despite the ongoing dispute with the tour operator Alma Tour.
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