Bulgaria Air was established in 2002 as a successor to the insolvent Balkan Bulgarian Airlines, Bulgaria’s government-owned flag carrier. Bulgaria Air began operations using the name “Balkan Air Tour”, but was known by that name for just a short period of time.
In November 2002, the airline was declared the national flag carrier by order of the Minister of Transport and Communications. Also in November, the name “Bulgaria Air” and the initial logo of the new airline were determined by a public contest.
On December 4, 2002, Bulgaria Air commenced operations.
In 2006, Bulgaria Air was privatized when it was bought by a group of locally owned companies, led by Hemus Air. The only other contender was the Italian airline Air One. Since then, all flights and operations of Hemus Air and Viaggio Air, its subsidiary, were conducted under the name and management of Bulgaria Air. Also, a new livery with an improved, more professional design, was introduced.
Since November 2008, Bulgaria Air is a full member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
In 2010, Bulgaria Air rolled out the finalised colour scheme of its new livery on an Airbus A319. Together with LSG Sky Chefs, Bulgaria Air created a new airline catering company called Silver Wings.
In 2011, Bulgaria Air in cooperation with M-SAT Cable created Bulgaria ON AIR Media Group that includes two magazines – The Inflight Magazine and The Business Magazine, website, radio and TV channel.
In March 2012, Bulgaria Air received the first of the seven Embraer E190 aircraft it ordered in mid-2011. The introduction of Embraer E-Jets to its fleet allowed Bulgaria Air to increase frequencies across its European network. The two-class layout with 108 seats allowed Bulgaria Air to match supply to demand better, through the use of smaller aircraft than previously.
In December 2014, airberlin, Germany’s second largest airline, and Bulgaria Air signed a codeshare agreement. Codeshare flights on some European routes started from January 14, 2015. All flights in the airberlin route network to and from Bulgaria are now operated by Bulgaria Air under the codeshare deal.
In 2015, Bulgaria Air revived Bul Air, a charter carrier. Today, Bulgaria Air’s subsidiary operates Boeing B737 300 aircraft and, in the future, Boeing B737 800 aircraft.
In 2016, Bulgaria Air’s number of passenger carried decreased by 2% compared to 2015, to 1,246,350 passengers on both scheduled and charter flights. Also, the number of operations decreased by 0.5%, to 4675 in 2016 from 4697 in 2015.
In 2017, Bulgaria and Air Alitalia expanded their codeshare partnership to cover service beyond Sofia and Rome.
In February 2018, Bulgaria Air added a new route to its network, service to Odessa, Ukraine, scheduled twice a week with Embraer E190 aircraft.
No fatal accidents involving Bulgaria Air were registered so far.