Thirty years ago Burgas reverberated to the roar of Kuznetsov engines as Ilyushin Il-86s and Tupolev Tu-154s disgorged holidaymakers from the Soviet Union into the sunspots along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Today’s passengers are mainly seeking the same things but now the airport has more of a Western flavour, as Sebastian Schmitz discovered.

Black Sea sunspot

Bulgarian Air Charter McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and a Silk Way Airlines Boeing 747-400F share the apron. (Fraport Twin Star Airport Management AD)

The Bulgarian Black Sea has been popular with holidaymakers for decades. Until the 1990s it was a favourite seaside haunt of visitors from Eastern Bloc, many of whom were not allowed to visit the West. More adventurous travellers from Western Europe began to explore the region in the 1970s and by the end of the last millennium it had become a major draw for the more price-conscious, and those on a limited budget. Now, hundreds of thousands of sun-seekers fly to the area each year and many will spend their two weeks in all-inclusive resorts along the coast. Varna and Burgas airports serve the Black Sea coastal resorts, with the latter being somewhat busier.

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