GullivAir, Bulgaria’s New Long Haul Airline

Filed Under: Other Airlines

There’s a new Bulgarian airline with an Airbus A330 that plans to start flying to New York…

GullivAir, Bulgaria’s new airline startup

GullivAir is a new private airline in Bulgaria. While the airline has a website, it doesn’t currently have much information, in spite of the fact that the airline is already operating flights. So let’s talk about what we know as of now.

GullivAir fleet

GullivAir currently has a single 14 year old Airbus A330-200, which used to fly for Dutch airline KLM, before starting to fly for Pakistan’s Shaheen Air in 2016. That plane has the registration code LZ-ONE.

The airline intends to dry-lease a further two Airbus A330s that used to fly for Turkish Airlines, as well as some ATR-72 turboprops.

Best I can tell, GullivAir’s current A330 is in an all-economy configuration. Only time will tell what configuration GullivAir’s A330s from Turkish Airlines will have — I’d guess the airline will maintain whatever interiors the planes currently have.

GullivAir destinations & routes

As of now, GullivAir has only operated a few charter flights with its A330:

  • In October the plane operated a roundtrip flight to Nassau, and a roundtrip flight to Yangzhou
  • In December the plane operated a roundtrip flight to Birmingham
  • In the coming weeks the airline intends to operate charter flights from Bucharest to Punta Cana and the Maldives (yes, even though the airline is Bulgarian, it’s operating some charter flights out of Romania)

However, GullivAir has quite some growth plans, including plans to operate regularly scheduled flights:

  • Once the airline has three A330s, it’s being reported that there are plans to operate regularly scheduled flights from Sofia to New York, Toronto, and Delhi
  • The airline submitted a request for US service with the Department of Transportation back in September, so it seems like the airline is serious about flying to the US (at least more so than some other airline startups)

GullivAir’s planned long haul routes

GullivAir’s livery is something…

GullivAir’s A330 livery sure is… simple and blue and white. It almost reminds me of a less nice Finnair livery.

Bottom line

GullivAir is an airline startup in Bulgaria, that plans to have a fleet of three Airbus A330s within the next several months. The airline has big growth plans, with the goal of flying to New York by the summer of 2021.

We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out. Historically both Bulgaria and Romania have struggled with long haul airlines. While this seems like a tough time to start a new airline, I suppose the airline could at least get a good deal on new planes…

What do you make of GullivAir’s plans?

Comments
  1. Your flight map is showing Bucharest (OTP) as departure point, but text and source are talking about Sofia. Probably just a small mistake or did I miss something?

  2. @ Peer — Fixed, thanks! Sorry, was mixing up the charter flights the airline is currently operating, and the planned scheduled flights in the future.

  3. Seasonaly this could work very well, albeit with flights to BOJ. Whilst Sunny Beach in Bulgaria has an image of lads on tour but there are some lovely beaches and hotels in the region. A 1-2X weekly flight to NYC & DEL would work well attracting the middle class who would like a 1-2 week beach resort holiday but not spend 6+K for the same amenities and climate. The region is very popular with wealthy Russians, Polish and Germans. For the winter months the Sofia departures would work well as it’s a lovely city, they could potentially get feeder traffic from the UAE with Wizz Air as self transfer/unprotected connections

  4. Bulgaria’s Balkan airline have had more long haul destinations than most of Europe in the 70s, do some research before claiming “they always struggled”.

    By March 1970, Balkan served 22 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe plus nine domestic destinations.

    For example, Finnair did their first long haul in 1969 while Balkan was flying direct to Kenya in 1962.

    I am using Finnair as an example due to logo comments 🙂

  5. One aircraft means a very vulnerable operation. Look at what happened to Norwegian when they started out – travellers were delayed for days. I’d be very surprised if they had any sort of agreements with other airlines to fly stranded passengers to their destinations. Expect to fight for any compensation or good IRROPS handling

  6. New York, Toronto, and Delhi?? Are they trying to connect North American passengers to Delhi, thereby becoming a very mini version of Emirates? Anyone know if such connections are part of their business plan?

  7. Their livery makes it seem as if they have the A330neos lol. At first sight, anyone would think it’s an A330neo before spotting the A330-standard winglets.

  8. They will also operate some charter flights out of Sofia to the Maldives /around Christmas and new year/ and to Zanzibar/in February and March/.

  9. I live in Sofia, Bulgaria. There has been talk of direct flights to the United States for several years, but the problem is that they cannot fill such a large plane. I don’t see what has changed now, but I don’t think the whole idea will be very successful.

  10. Takes me back to the Bulgarian airline that left me stranded in Europe back in the early 90’s when they went bankrupt. Anyone remember JesAir?

  11. It seems with their scheduled plans (JFK, YYZ, DEL) they want to capture a slice of the India – USA market. Both JFK and YYZ are huge markets for indian travellers visiting family and a market that all the european carriers chase.

  12. @ Morgan — No, it’s an A330-200 that’s painted to look like a neo. Just look at the wingtips, that’s not a neo.

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