The European Commission has approved EUR30.7 million euros (USD33.7 million) in direct Bulgarian government grants as support for the country’s airlines covering the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union’s executive branch said in a statement on Friday, March 18.

The aid scheme consists of two types of support, the first providing assistance “for the uncovered fixed costs for air carriers that suffered a decline in turnover between March 2020 and December 2021 of at least 30% compared to the same period of 2019.” The second consists of more limited amounts of aid for companies that suffered a decline in turnover lower than 30%.

The scheme, which the commission said was in line with the temporary Covid-era relaxation in state aid rules, will be open to airlines of all sizes holding a Bulgarian operating licence. The purpose, it added, is to address the liquidity needs of these companies and to help them continue their activities during and after the pandemic.

The aid will not exceed EUR12 million (USD13.2 million) per beneficiary under the first type of support and EUR2.3 million (USD2.5 million) per beneficiary under the second. Under both, the support will be provided no later than June 30, 2022.

The European Commission concluded that “the scheme is necessary, appropriate, and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state.”

According to the ch-aviation PRO airlines module, Bulgaria is home to 12 active scheduled or charter passenger airlines that do not specialise in business/private charters - ALK Airlines, BH Air - Balkan Holidays Air, the flag carrier Bulgaria Air and its charter unit Bul Air, Electra Airways, European Air Charter, Fly2Sky, GP Aviation, GullivAir, Heli Air, Jet-Ops Europe, and Voyage Air. It also has two active cargo carriers, Cargo Air and Compass Cargo Airlines.