Russia Brings Home 130 of Their Own Stranded in BulgariaTourism | September 18, 2011, Sunday // 10:06| views
Two of the hundreds of Russians stranded for days in Bulgaria's Black Sea Burgas and Varna airports. Photo by BGNES
A plane of "Rossiya" (Russia) airlines, transporting some of the Russian tourists, who were stranded at Bulgarian Black Sea airports, had landed in St. Petersburg.
The aircraft with 130 on board had arrived at the Pulkovo airport at 2:31 am and the passengers have been transported to their homes by specially arranged for buses, the Bulgarian National Television, BNT, reported Sunday.
The flight has been paid for by the St. Petersburg government and the political party United Russia.
Some 700 Russians, 200 Finns and dozens of persons from Lithuania waited for days to get home after their flights were canceled last Friday and Saturday, due to an alleged EUR 3.6 M debt to national carrier Bulgaria Air from Alma Tour.
On Friday, it was reported that 200 Russian tourists were still stranded at the airport in the southern Bulgarian city of Varna, while another 100 were stranded at the northern Burgas airport. Both groups are to be heading to Saint Petersburg.
The next flights are scheduled for September 23 for 360 passengers and for September 30 – for 180. Bulgaria Air, however, has no intentions of transporting these passengers, who arrived in the country on their planes, and have paid for their tickets, the Russian Union of Travel Industry has commented.
On Saturday, Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, announced that the institution is extending all visas of the stranded Russian tourists, but stressed the conflict is extremely unpleasant for Bulgaria and those responsible must endure adequate consequences.
Also on Saturday, the Russian Union of Travel Industry filed a claim with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) against Bulgaria Air.
On Friday, Mariya Mihaleva, CEO of the Bulgarian state-owned Sunny Beach company, resigned on the demand the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traicho Traikov. Traikov stated that Mihaleva also works for the Alma Tour tour operator, one of the two Bulgarian companies that triggered the crisis, which suggests a conflict of interests is in place.
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