BUZZING holidaymakers filled Southend Airport as they praised the return of flights to Bulgaria.

Tourists looking forward to soaking up the sun on the black sea’s beaches set off on the inaugural Balkan Holidays flight from the city’s airport to Bourgas yesterday morning.

Despite an hour and a half delay, passengers were in good spirits as they praised a “stress-free” experience at the airport and enjoyed cupcakes and champagne with airport bosses.

Bourgas was one of the many popular routes the airport lost during the Covid pandemic but has now returned and flights will take place every Monday until September 2.

Eager tourists, Simone Stone and Phil Pegrum, from Chelmsford praised the stress-free experience at Southend Airport.

Simone said: “We got from Chelmsford to here by bus, it was very quick, and we passed through security easily.

“We only decided we were going to Bulgaria at 5pm on Saturday night, we got the late deals.”

Phil added: “We know nothing about Bulgaria, we haven’t watched any YouTube videos or anything, we are only going because of Southend Airport offering it.”

Paddy Daly, originally from Limerick and now based in Leigh, bought tickets for the first flight just to explore the region.

He said: “It has taken us ten minutes to get through security and it takes us just an hour to get here, we just like having the good service.

“We wanted to try a city we haven’t seen before and we have felt like royalty, we’ve been handed champagne from the second we got here.”

Pat, from Basildon, and Josie, from Romford, are sisters who took the first flight based on the deal.

Josie said: “Southend is the cheapest to fly from, I am very excited for the trip since I’ve heard very good things about the region.

“Pat has been before and said it was incredibly good, I haven’t been to Bulgaria before however.”

Nigel Mayes, business development director at London Southend Airport, said: “With this summer already looking like a bit of a washout at home, many people will be seeking the sun, sea and sand that Bourgas in Bulgaria has to offer.

“Balkan Holidays is making a sunny break overseas easy and affordable for people in Essex, the East of London and East Anglia.”