Bulgarian Airline At Center Of Storm
EasyFly, a startup
airline in Bulgaria that offered tempting discount fares to other
European destinations like Berlin, Munich and Alicante, from the
Bulgarian jetports of Plovdiv, in the center of the country, and
Sofia, the capital, appears to have been shut down, after having
only flown one flight: from Plovdiv to Berlin last December.
But, while the line has not been flying, it has definitely been
selling tickets, which has the Economic Police of Bulgaria somewhat
agitated. They're trying to get a count of and location for all the
customers who are holding tickets. The tickets may be valueless --
except as evidence in criminal proceedings.
Bulgarian media reported that the tickets sold for 141 Euro on
average. The easyFly website suggests that fares as low as 29 and
even 19 Euro are available. The name is curiously close to that of
easyJet, a legitimate, and highly successful, British low-cost
operator which has no apparent connection to Bulgarian easyFly.
The airline claimed in its timetable to offer service with
Boeing 737 and BAe 146 jetliners, and in other materials to have
737-400 and ATR 42 aircraft.
This is not the Bulgarian authorities' first airline case. A
low-fare charter company called Bexx Air was shuttered by the
authorities in September, 2004 amid claims that it neither had, nor
had ever sought, business licensing in Bulgaria.
They lay the same charge
against EasyFly, and add another: fraud.
Would-be travellers who found that they held tickets to
cancelled flights have been unable to get refunds. On January 28th
the Ministry of Transport said that the company is not registered
as an air carrier in Bulgaria and cannot legally make flights, or
offer any kind of service to the public.
The head of EasyFly, Mathias Poranske, a German based in Munich,
has been questioned by the police. Poranske didn't deny selling the
tickets, or not operating the flights. He claimed that the flights
were cancelled for reasons out of his control, and promised that
all customers who bought tickets would get their money back. So
far, it hasn't happened.
The EasyFly website promises, in somewhat strained English,
"easyFLY does not declare that we fly easily! We are performing
If Poranske can't come up with the customers' cash, his next
"easy flight" might be the kind intended to evade prosecution.
Meanwhile, the easyFly website is still soliciting ticket
We wouldn't recommend it, right now.