JERUSALEM (Apr. 8)
The first flight to Israel by Balkan Air, Bulgaria’s national airline, landed Monday at Ben-Gurion Airport with 68 immigrants on board.
Jewish Agency officials expressed hope that at least 100 Bulgarian olim would arrive each month now that direct flights from the capital city of Sofia have been established.
The Jewish Agency signed an agreement on Feb. 4 with Balkan Air to transport Bulgarian olim to Israel. Balkan Air also signed an interline agreement March 25 with El Al, Israel’s airline.
El Al is expected to begin regular flights to Sofia in July.
About 1,000 Bulgarian Jews immigrated to Israel last year, according to Jewish Agency Chairman Simcha Dinitz. They traveled by indirect routes in the absence of direct flights.
Dinitz said he hoped a similar number would come to Israel this year.
About 5,000 Jews now live in Bulgaria.