Bulgaria's Govt Plane to No Longer Serve Private Flights
Bulgaria's government aircraft and its crew will no longer be used for any private flights, even if they are to be paid.
The Interior and Health Ministries will be the only institutions that would be able to use the Airbus A319 in cases of emergency.
Ministers from the Cabinet will be allowed to board the plane only after showing a business trip slip, signed by the Prime Minister.
This is written in the new Code of Air Detachment 28, which operates the government aircraft.
Regarding sports events, only national teams can use the plane and only with a written request from the Sports Ministry, approved by the PM.
The news was announced by Transport Minister, Danail Papazov, speaking in an interview for the Bulgarian Pressa (Press) daily. Since the end of January, Papazov is in charge of the crew and the flights.
The use of the government aircraft by former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's amateur football team made headlines in Bulgaria in the summer of 2012.
It emerged then that the PM's lower-tier team Vitosha Bistritsa and the team of Chavdar Etropole notoriously flew to the Black Sea city of Varna to play a friendly game using the government Airbus A319.
Borisov stated at the time the team of Chavdar Etropole paid for the controversial flight, claiming there was "nothing wrong" with it.
However, officials from the Bulgarian Civil Aviation Administration explained the government Airbus A319 is not permitted to carry out commercial flights.
The aircraft is not registered under Ordinance 37, the one that regulates all commercial airliners in the country, the officials have clarified.
Tsvyatko Lukanov, a former head of "Air Detachment 28", also declared that the flight was illegal.
The friendly game was allegedly scheduled after Borisov lost a cards game bet against controversial former GERB MP Emil Dimitrov, who is the honorary president of Chavdar.
After being long-time close friends, Borisov and Dimitrov recently parted ways. Dimitrov became one of the founders of the new party BASTA, which is trying to attract members of Borisov's GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria).
A Parliamentary ad-hoc committee was appointed in the aftermath to probe the government craft's use. It established a number of other violations and in September 2013, it announced that flights of Bulgaria's rulers for the period August 2009 – March 2013 cost Bulgarian taxpayers the whooping BGN 33 M. Borisov tops the list with 267 flights