Bulgaria's AVB 2004 is due to take delivery of a Learjet 60XR in mid-2007 as it underpins its entrepreneurial owner's ambition to become a major regional player in charter services.
The Sofia-based operator, owned by Nove Holding, currently operates a Learjet 60 and a Citation Bravo.
Capt Valter Kolev, executive director and chief pilot of AVB 2004, says: "The business is growing in a geometrical progression. We would like to order more aircraft taking into consideration owner's business development and the growth of the aviation market in Bulgaria."
He adds: "Most current operations are to serve the needs of the owner of Nove Holding, Vasil Bojkov, his business partners and the holding company's senior management. The owner is a prominent entrepreneur in this part of the world and has a very positive attitude towards the aviation business."
Kolev says: "We have selected the Learjet 60XR because it is the fastest in its class, and has a cabin with large dimensions. It has a range of 2,900 nm and can cover all destinations we fly to. The Learjet 60 is comfortable for the pilot and provides a high level of comfort for the passengers, meeting the strict requirements of the owner."
Kolev highlights the demand in the region for new and comfortable aircraft. He says: "We are going to order only new aircraft in the future. Now, however, we have a mixed fleet."
AVB 2004 was established in 2004 and has established its soon-to-be three aircraft fleet to meet established demand. "There is a very good growth trend in terms of numbers of customers, flights and hours in the air," says Kolev. "The high demand for vip flights will continue in the future because of the economic growth in the region. We would like to utilise this situation and became regional leader in the vip sector."
Kolev adds: "At this stage I do not think that we have any meaningful competitors in Bulgaria."
One or two other companies offer vip charters but their aircraft are not modern "and cannot compete against us at this stage," Kolev says.
Demand is mostly for business charter but there is also a call for some leisure flights. "We fly to destinations in Europe, Russia, Asia and the Near East," says Kolev.
Kolev graduated from the civil aviation branch of the Bulgarian Air Force School in 1982. He worked for Bulgaria's national carrier Balkan Bulgarian Airlines and became an experienced captain and instructor pilot.
"We hire only good pilots with solid experience because we do only vip flights," says Kolev. "Personally I have logged some 13,000 hours, on the following types of aircraft - Yak-40, Tu-134, An-24, Tu-154, MD 82/83, Cessna Citation Bravo and Learjet 60."
AVB 2004 has a full complement of pilots and no current vacancies. However Kolev says: "There are a lot of candidates to join the company when we commence the introduction of new aircraft."