Bulgarian-Soviet Transport Aviation Corporation /

Transportno-Aviacionno Bwlgaro-Swvetsko Obedinenie





"Although Bulgaria had a short-lived airline (Bunavad) in 1927, the country was too poor to afford investing in modern air

transport until after World War II. In 1946, the Ministry of Transport and Communications formed an Administration of Air

Communications (Direkcia na vwzdusnite swobxenia, DVS). Since Bulgaria was regarded as a combatant on the defeated
Axis side, the DVS could only contract with France for the supply of several Atelier d'Avions Coulombe Toucan aircraft

(AAC Toucans or French-built Junkers Ju-52/3ms). Pending their delivery, Bulgarian airmen flew the nation's first longer

air services: several government flights to the peace negotiations in Paris. They also flew intensive relief flights to Montenegro
in Yugoslavia, where there was famine. These flights used German-built Ju-52 aircraft (Bulgarian service
designation Sova) delivered before the war to theBulgarian Air Army or captured during the war from the Germans.

DVS officially launched services under the Bulgarian Air Lines (Bwlgarski vwzdusni linii) name on 29 June 1947 with a Ju-52 flight

 from Sofia via Plovdiv to Burgas. Other services soon followed. By the close of the year, the DVS had ordered several Soviet-built
DC-3s (Li-2s). The Soviet forces stationed in Bulgaria took an interest in the DVS and by late 1947 took it into joint ownership as

they had done with all airlines of former Axis East-European countries. The resulting airline was called TABSO: the Bulgarian-Soviet

Transport Aviation Corporation or "Transportno-aviacionno bwlgaro-swvetsko obedinenie." The Ju-52s gradually faded from the scene

as TABSO reequipped with Li-2s. These more modern machines allowed the airline ot expand services on a proper footing.

Soviet equity in TABSO was reacquired by the Bulgarian government in 1954 as part of the Soviet forces' withdrawal from

 Bulgaria. The airline was now simply known as "Tabso": a brand name without any meaning which survived until 1967, often in the

shadow of the headline phrase Bulgarian Air Transport. In 1956, Tabso bought its first Il-14 aircraft. In 1962, it began Il-18

 services which, alongside the expansion of Bulgaria's inclusive-tour tourism industry, began to put the airline's name on the

European and world map. The turboprop type overflew the Equator to Kenya and the Atlantic to Peru. By 1967,

An-24s had arrived for domestic and regional flights.

By the mid-60s tourism was a major hard currency earner for Bulgaria and Tabso faced home-grown competition.

Executives of the Teksim trading company had decided to start their own aviation business which included crop-spraying

and inclusive-tour charter airline operations. Despite trying to buy Caravelles, they ended up buying more Il-18s under heavy Soviet
and Bulgarian political pressure. The Teksim venture proved a success and a thorn in the side of Tabso. By 1967, Tabso had the inside

track in government circles, and the Teksim operation was disbanded. Amid rumours of scandal and embezzling, several Teksim
directors were sent to jail. Their venture had operated under the Tabso banner for reasons of expediency (not least international rights).

Before Teksim, Tabso had been a socialist "mono-airline," encompassing all commercial aviation from crop-spraying, through

scheduled services and charter flights, to running airports. However, Teksim had broken the mould. In 1967, enthusiasts within
Tabso and newcomers from Teksim launched Bulair -- a charter subsidiary of Tabso. This managed to survive for five years before being

reabsorbed into the parent company.

In early 1968, Tabso was rebranded Balkan Bulgarian Airlines (Bulgarski vwzdusni linii "Balkan"). "






This Page Last Edited on 24-Feb-2009 09:18 PM