Air Carrier certificate in Bulgaria

Air transportation in Bulgaria is governed simultaneously by EU legislation e.g. Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 [PDF 113Kb], international aviation law and the domestic legislation, such as the Civil Aviation Act and secondary legislation ordinances. The authority which supervises civil air transport is Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration”.

How to establish an air carrier in Bulgaria

Air carriage is subject to licensing by the Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration”. Each company applicant needs to match certain requirement before the license is granted:

[list2]

  • the applicant is a company duly registered in Bulgaria and solvent.
  • its main activity is to operate air services in isolation or combined with any other commercial operation of aircraft or the repair and maintenance of aircraft;
  • the applicant must enclose a well grounded business plan for its activity
  • the applicant must possess own capital of minimum 160,000 Bulgarian Levs (or €81806.70)
  • the applicant must possess a certificate for air operator
  • the applicant must enclose a proof for its financial stability. According to the legal definition of the Civil Aviation Act the applicant company is "financially stable" when as a result of an analysis and evaluation of the presented balance sheet, income and expenses report and cash flow report, certified by a registered auditor, it is established that the entity is at good financial status, it is solvent and can provide the necessary funds for ensuring flight safety.
[/list2]

The license is issued for an indefinite term, but all conditions for its granting are subject to regular and interim checks by Directorate's inspectors. If a condition is no longer met by the air carrier, the license can be revoked.

One of the aforementioned requirements is possession of air operator certificate (AOC). It is a certificate delivered to the company and confirming that the company has the professional and organisational competence to ensure the safety of operations specified in the certificate, as provided in the relevant provisions of Community law and the National law. The Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration” grants the certificate and applies strict preliminary and ongoing control on all AOC holders.

AOC is issued for an initial period of 12 months. The AOC can be extended up to 3 years, after the initial period expires.

In order for an AOC to be granted, the applicant company shall provide:

[list2]

  • a list of the names and addresses of the managing persons, as well as evidence that they have the necessary qualification and professional experience;
  • a list of the names, addresses, licence numbers and other information about all persons related to the operation of the operator's aircraft;
  • an Operations Manual which may be presented later but not more than 60 days before the date of scheduled operations;
  • documents for issuance of a continuing airworthiness management organization approval and approval of organizations and personnel involved in these tasks, or a Maintenance Control Manual;
  • documents for issuance of an aircraft maintenance organization and components service approval to be installed in these aircrafts under Part 145 of Regulation 2042/2003 on the maintenance of airworthiness of aircrafts and aviation products, parts and appliances, and on the approval of organizations and personnel involved in these tasks, or a Maintenance Organization Exposition; or submitted for review and approval technical service agreement with another approved organization for TS;
  • a quality system;
  • an accident prevention and flight safety program which must be comprehensive and effective, with enclosed evidence of available resources;

[/list2]

Air Carrier certificate in Bulgaria

Air transportation in Bulgaria is governed simultaneously by EU legislation e.g. Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 [PDF 113Kb], international aviation law and the domestic legislation, such as the Civil Aviation Act and secondary legislation ordinances. The authority which supervises civil air transport is Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration”.

How to establish an air carrier in Bulgaria

Air carriage is subject to licensing by the Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration”. Each company applicant needs to match certain requirement before the license is granted:

[list2]

  • the applicant is a company duly registered in Bulgaria and solvent.
  • its main activity is to operate air services in isolation or combined with any other commercial operation of aircraft or the repair and maintenance of aircraft;
  • the applicant must enclose a well grounded business plan for its activity
  • the applicant must possess own capital of minimum 160,000 Bulgarian Levs (or €81806.70)
  • the applicant must possess a certificate for air operator
  • the applicant must enclose a proof for its financial stability. According to the legal definition of the Civil Aviation Act the applicant company is "financially stable" when as a result of an analysis and evaluation of the presented balance sheet, income and expenses report and cash flow report, certified by a registered auditor, it is established that the entity is at good financial status, it is solvent and can provide the necessary funds for ensuring flight safety.
[/list2]

The license is issued for an indefinite term, but all conditions for its granting are subject to regular and interim checks by Directorate's inspectors. If a condition is no longer met by the air carrier, the license can be revoked.

One of the aforementioned requirements is possession of air operator certificate (AOC). It is a certificate delivered to the company and confirming that the company has the professional and organisational competence to ensure the safety of operations specified in the certificate, as provided in the relevant provisions of Community law and the National law. The Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration” grants the certificate and applies strict preliminary and ongoing control on all AOC holders.

AOC is issued for an initial period of 12 months. The AOC can be extended up to 3 years, after the initial period expires.

In order for an AOC to be granted, the applicant company shall provide:

[list2]

  • a list of the names and addresses of the managing persons, as well as evidence that they have the necessary qualification and professional experience;
  • a list of the names, addresses, licence numbers and other information about all persons related to the operation of the operator's aircraft;
  • an Operations Manual which may be presented later but not more than 60 days before the date of scheduled operations;
  • documents for issuance of a continuing airworthiness management organization approval and approval of organizations and personnel involved in these tasks, or a Maintenance Control Manual;
  • documents for issuance of an aircraft maintenance organization and components service approval to be installed in these aircrafts under Part 145 of Regulation 2042/2003 on the maintenance of airworthiness of aircrafts and aviation products, parts and appliances, and on the approval of organizations and personnel involved in these tasks, or a Maintenance Organization Exposition; or submitted for review and approval technical service agreement with another approved organization for TS;
  • a quality system;
  • an accident prevention and flight safety program which must be comprehensive and effective, with enclosed evidence of available resources;

[/list2]

Compulsory liquidations delay for unknown reasons

The Commercial Register Act was clear enough "all companies which don't re-register by 01.01.2012 are subject to compulsory liquidation by the state". 1st Jan has passed and there's no sign of the Registry Agency to have initiated any liquidation. There is even no official statement, neither to the public, nor to all the liquidators who are listed with the Agency.

Naturally the Agency don't respond their officially announced phone numbers (more than 10!), nor they reply to official emails. Now that's what I call public service.  That comes with no surprise, having in mind the 6th Feb 2012 Interim Report from the European Commission where EU criticises the Judicial reform as lacking any progress. The Registry Agency is part of the Ministry of Justice so no wonder there is no sign of applying the law..

When initiated (hopefully sooner), the liquidation will create huge mess. The database web servers of the Agency are not prepared for the huge document traffic that will be generated. Resent statements by the Agency confirmed their IT power cannot handle huge network traffic and date processing. That was confirmed in practice yesterday, where the website of the Commercial register stopped functioning for one whole day. Whole business sector just seized to function for one day.

Compulsory liquidations delay for unknown reasons

The Commercial Register Act was clear enough "all companies which don't re-register by 01.01.2012 are subject to compulsory liquidation by the state". 1st Jan has passed and there's no sign of the Registry Agency to have initiated any liquidation. There is even no official statement, neither to the public, nor to all the liquidators who are listed with the Agency.

Naturally the Agency don't respond their officially announced phone numbers (more than 10!), nor they reply to official emails. Now that's what I call public service.  That comes with no surprise, having in mind the 6th Feb 2012 Interim Report from the European Commission where EU criticises the Judicial reform as lacking any progress. The Registry Agency is part of the Ministry of Justice so no wonder there is no sign of applying the law..

When initiated (hopefully sooner), the liquidation will create huge mess. The database web servers of the Agency are not prepared for the huge document traffic that will be generated. Resent statements by the Agency confirmed their IT power cannot handle huge network traffic and date processing. That was confirmed in practice yesterday, where the website of the Commercial register stopped functioning for one whole day. Whole business sector just seized to function for one day.

Roadworthiness tests in another EU member state

Today were enquired whether a truck, registered in one EU member state would have a valid roadworthiness test certificate if the test would to be performed in another EU member state. The problem is that the Community haulage permit holder (licensed in Bulgaria) had been stopped by the Bulgarian Traffic Police and after a document inspection they haven't recognized the roadworthiness test certificate of the truck issued in Spain. We have checked thoroughly whether this non-recognition is legal or not. Pursuant Art.4 of 77/143/EEC Council Directive, "roadworthiness tests within the meaning of this Directive shall be carried out by the State or by bodies or establishments designated and directly supervised by the State". Stipulated like that it is still not very clear whether the Traffic Police in our case is right or not.

However, we have researched further on that and we have found that a very similar case have already been tried in European Court of Justice. In its decision on the case Johannes Gerrit Cornelis van Schaik v Hoge Raad der Nederlanden  in Para  21 the Court has ruled that:

...Article 4 of the directive further provides that the roadworthiness tests, within the meaning of the directive, are to be carried out by the State or by bodies or establishments designated and directly supervised by the State. Thus the directive imposes a territorial limitation on periodic testing.
The decision of the European Court of Justice are obligatory for all domestic courts, in terms of interpretation and best application of the European legislation in the member states. Therefore, the Traffic Police decision not to recognise roadworthiness certificate issued in a member state different from the one registered the vehicle is legal.

Roadworthiness tests in another EU member state

Today were enquired whether a truck, registered in one EU member state would have a valid roadworthiness test certificate if the test would to be performed in another EU member state. The problem is that the Community haulage permit holder (licensed in Bulgaria) had been stopped by the Bulgarian Traffic Police and after a document inspection they haven't recognized the roadworthiness test certificate of the truck issued in Spain. We have checked thoroughly whether this non-recognition is legal or not. Pursuant Art.4 of 77/143/EEC Council Directive, "roadworthiness tests within the meaning of this Directive shall be carried out by the State or by bodies or establishments designated and directly supervised by the State". Stipulated like that it is still not very clear whether the Traffic Police in our case is right or not.

However, we have researched further on that and we have found that a very similar case have already been tried in European Court of Justice. In its decision on the case Johannes Gerrit Cornelis van Schaik v Hoge Raad der Nederlanden  in Para  21 the Court has ruled that:

...Article 4 of the directive further provides that the roadworthiness tests, within the meaning of the directive, are to be carried out by the State or by bodies or establishments designated and directly supervised by the State. Thus the directive imposes a territorial limitation on periodic testing.
The decision of the European Court of Justice are obligatory for all domestic courts, in terms of interpretation and best application of the European legislation in the member states. Therefore, the Traffic Police decision not to recognise roadworthiness certificate issued in a member state different from the one registered the vehicle is legal.

Liquidation of Bulgarian limited company

The biggest issue with the compulsory liquidation of the Bulgarian limited companies is the communication with the state appointed liquidator. Since the Registry Agency appoints liquidators from their liquidators lists, no one considers whether the company owner is foreigner or does he speaks Bulgarian. Some liquidators are not diligent enough when they see that the company owner is not Bulgarian. Sometimes they will not make efforts to contact the latter. One a separate note, this is difficult because the company owner address is spelled in Cyrillic letters and it is very difficult to restore the right English spelling.

Normally the the newly appointed liquidator will try to contact the capital owner(s) and request all company documentation i.e. contracts, bank account balance, court papers (if any), past years accounting reports etc. These will be needed to find out if the company has any outstanding debts and to repay them. Only then the rest of the company assets will be cashed and distributed among the company capital owners. Upon request of the capital owners and if available, any property left can be transferred to the company owner(s) without being cashed.

The latter is an exemption rather than a normal procedure. Therefore the company owners need explicitly and formally to request this transfer from the liquidator. If this request is not made in a formal way, the liquidator will sell the property on public tender/auction. As solicitors, we ensure that the formal request is submitted to the liquidator on time and no foreigner loses their property just because a formal request hasn't been made to the liquidator.

Having said the above, I strongly encourage all Britons and Irish who still haven't re-registered their companies - you still can keep your properties! The only effort you need to make is contact us with details of your Bulgarian limited company. We will take care of the rest.

Liquidation of Bulgarian limited company

The biggest issue with the compulsory liquidation of the Bulgarian limited companies is the communication with the state appointed liquidator. Since the Registry Agency appoints liquidators from their liquidators lists, no one considers whether the company owner is foreigner or does he speaks Bulgarian. Some liquidators are not diligent enough when they see that the company owner is not Bulgarian. Sometimes they will not make efforts to contact the latter. One a separate note, this is difficult because the company owner address is spelled in Cyrillic letters and it is very difficult to restore the right English spelling.

Normally the the newly appointed liquidator will try to contact the capital owner(s) and request all company documentation i.e. contracts, bank account balance, court papers (if any), past years accounting reports etc. These will be needed to find out if the company has any outstanding debts and to repay them. Only then the rest of the company assets will be cashed and distributed among the company capital owners. Upon request of the capital owners and if available, any property left can be transferred to the company owner(s) without being cashed.

The latter is an exemption rather than a normal procedure. Therefore the company owners need explicitly and formally to request this transfer from the liquidator. If this request is not made in a formal way, the liquidator will sell the property on public tender/auction. As solicitors, we ensure that the formal request is submitted to the liquidator on time and no foreigner loses their property just because a formal request hasn't been made to the liquidator.

Having said the above, I strongly encourage all Britons and Irish who still haven't re-registered their companies - you still can keep your properties! The only effort you need to make is contact us with details of your Bulgarian limited company. We will take care of the rest.

Bulgarian courts should accepts/send papers online

This week we have achieved a small victory. We are representatives of a client on a case, heard in Stara Zagora District Court. We have asked the judge to send by email copies of the latest hearing minutes. The judge refused, grounding her decision with "the court doesn't have that practice". We'll that was not quite true. Art. 42 para 4 of the Civil Proceedings Code allows the court to send notices and subpoenas by email. We claimed that the court can use that to send copies of court documents too.

We have lodged an application to the Chairperson of Stara Zagora District Court, requesting the Chairman to "create such practice". The court Chairperson accepted our arguments and ordered the judge to apply directly the aforesaid article. Yesterday we have received the requested documents by email.

I'm writing about this since that a major breakthrough in how the Bulgarian court operates. As I've said before, one of the major reasons of why lawsuits  take so long to be tried is the notice/subpoena problem. Electronic means solve this problem, but the the judges are reluctant to use them. There's no explanation why.

Bulgarian courts should accepts/send papers online

This week we have achieved a small victory. We are representatives of a client on a case, heard in Stara Zagora District Court. We have asked the judge to send by email copies of the latest hearing minutes. The judge refused, grounding her decision with "the court doesn't have that practice". We'll that was not quite true. Art. 42 para 4 of the Civil Proceedings Code allows the court to send notices and subpoenas by email. We claimed that the court can use that to send copies of court documents too.

We have lodged an application to the Chairperson of Stara Zagora District Court, requesting the Chairman to "create such practice". The court Chairperson accepted our arguments and ordered the judge to apply directly the aforesaid article. Yesterday we have received the requested documents by email.

I'm writing about this since that a major breakthrough in how the Bulgarian court operates. As I've said before, one of the major reasons of why lawsuits  take so long to be tried is the notice/subpoena problem. Electronic means solve this problem, but the the judges are reluctant to use them. There's no explanation why.