The Bulgarian Government has reached an interim settlement with the Zeevi group to allow continued operations by flag-carrier Balkan Bulgarian Airlines, in which the Israeli company holds a controlling stake. The deal, reached on 23 November, reschedules $12 million of Zeevi debts - inherited from Balkan - for 10 years, with Zeevi agreeing to inject a further $4 million.

Zeevi acquired a 75% stake in Balkan last year after agreeing to repay $30 million of Balkan's debts over a three-year period, and to inject a further $100 million within five years. Despite the new agreement, Zeevi and the Bulgarian Government remain far apart, with sources suggesting that Sofia has raised taxes and fees to be paid by Balkan and is demanding that Zeevi cover $120 million of debts.

The interim settlement will allow Balkan to continue short term operation, but airline sources say a wider agreement is needed.

Source: Flight International