Aviation Market Overview

An Expert's View about Aerospace in Hungary

Last updated: 31 Aug 2011

Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport (BLFIA) (formerly known as Ferihegy Airport) is Hungary’s main international gateway. It was privatized in 2005. British Airport Authority (BAA) won the bid, gaining a 75 percent stake and management rights for 75 years. In 2007 Hochtief Airport and four financial partners took over the development commitments and management rights for 73.5 years. The Hungarian State retained 25 percent plus 1 vote.

BLFIA received 8.19 million passengers in 2010 generated, by 41 airlines to over a 100 destinations and expects 8.7 million in 2011. To handle the Airport’s expected increase in passenger traffic Hochtief has started a USD 325 million development project including the upgrade of Terminal 1, the extension of Terminal 2 and a cargo base project. The Terminal 2 project – valued at Euro 261 million - involves major procurements like the construction of the Sky Court, the Cargo City and the development of another terminal starting from 2A where 8 more passenger bridges will also be constructed by 2015. The Sky Court was already completed and inaugurated in March 2011and is now in full operation.

MALEV - Hungary’s national airline - was privatized in April 2007 but re-nationalized by the Hungarian state in 2009 by 95 percent. The former owner AirBridge retained a 5 percent stake: 2.5 percent for private investor Magdolna Költ_ and 2.5 percent for state-owned Russian development bank Vnesheconombank. Malév has been a member of the Oneworld airline alliance since April 1st 2007. In 2009, MALEV carried more than 3.1 million passengers on scheduled flights and plans to have over 3.3 million passengers in 2011. The airline has piled up a huge debt over the past years, owes the Airport over EUR 20 million and the airport operator is considering initiating liquidation proceedings against MALEV if it does not pay.

MALEV continues to lease Boeing aircrafts, but is restructuring its regional fleet into a single model of light aircraft after returning its five Fokker-70s at the end of 2009. MALEV’s fleet consists of 18 Boeings and four Bombardier planes Q400. In 2009 MALEV placed on order for 30 Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jets (15 firm + 15 options). Deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of 2011 and the carrier expects to receive six aircraft per year. The total value of the purchase is over USD 1 billion.

The Hungarian National Asset Management Authority (MNV) approved EUR 16.7 billion (USD 23.7 billion) capital injection to Malev in June 2011. The airline is struggling with severe liquidity problems. MNV expects Malev to increase its equity by HUF 23 billion by the end of August 2011. Currently, Malev has a negative equity of HUF 22.5 billion. The state has increased Malév’s capital three times already. Overall, Malév’s capital was raised by HUF 40 billion by the state.

This summer Malev launched a new online travel planner service in order to improve its position. The airline purchased the service from its partner, the Spanish online holiday reservation system Amadeus. Malev intends to introduce further innovative services and products in the future as well as to review strategy plans set for the next three to five years. Furthermore, Malev intends to cooperate with Asian airlines and to offer competitive services in the future in order to attract passengers. During the Chinese Prime Minister European Tour in June 2011, the Chinese delegation has expressed interested in buying ownership in Hungarian companies like troubled Hungarian national airlines Malev as well as national rail company MÁV.

New airlines and destinations have and will also be introduced. American Airlines launched a daily direct flight from New York JFK airport to Budapest from April 2011. The first American Boeing 767-300 intercontinental aircraft landed at Liszt Ferenc International Airport on 4 April 2011. This is part of the global flight development plan, the details of which and of the trans-Atlantic cooperation of American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia Airlines were announced in London on 6 October. American Airlines considers Budapest an important destination in Central- Eastern Europe, as passengers may continue their journeys using the network of Malév, another member of the alliance to further destinations. The new trans-Atlantic flights were announced in London following the decisions of both the American and the European Union competition authorities approving the trans-Atlantic business cooperation of American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia, meaning a total of 91 flights a day under the flag of oneworld. Based on their business data in the first six months of 2010, American Airlines is the fourth largest airline in the world, which, together with its American subsidiary, American Eagle, serves 250 destinations with a huge fleet of 851 aircraft.

Delta Air Lines also provides five daily flights during summer season between Budapest and major American cities.

The other airlines with Hungarian ties are the following low-cost carriers: EasyJet, WizzAir, Germanwings, Norwegian, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Jet2, TUIFly and Norwegian. WizzAir operates flights from Budapest to 24 European cities (with an annual 1.2 million passengers), Norwegian and EasyJet to seven, GermanWings to 26 European destinations and Jet2 to two destinations. Low-cost airlines still enjoy an increasing popularity among Hungarian travelers and they have been expanding rapidly in Hungary.

Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport
The Airport (www.bud.hu) is in charge of managing, operating and developing Hungary’s main international airport, which is at the same time the second largest airport in the new EU member states. It is still the leading airport in Hungary taking up over 90 percent of passenger turnover.

The Airport has three terminals, Terminal 1, SkyCourt with 2A and B sections and a smaller one for general aviation flights. Terminal 1 was originally used for general aviation, cargo and charter flights. With the onset of and increased traffic flow from low cost airlines (WizzAir and EasyJet) the refurbishment of Terminal 1 became an urgent need. Reconstruction works were completed in September 2005 and now Terminal 1 is capable of receiving about 2.5 million passengers a year. SkyCourt, opened in March 2011, along with terminal 2A-B is capable of handling about 15 million passengers annually (double of the formerly annual 8 million passengers capacity!)

In late 2008, the Airport communicated its future plans for the airport and launched its expansion and modernization program “BUD Future”. Up to 2015, EUR 261 million will be invested in expanding capacities and infrastructure and upgrading services at the BLFI Airport. The airport will thus be able to cater to the continuing growth of traffic and the increased demand for Budapest Airport as one of the region’s most important hubs. The completion and opening of SkyCourt was the first step followed by the completion of cargo base in 2012-2015.

Budapest Airport has been carrying its new name “Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport” as of March 25th, 2011. The airport has been named after the great Hungarian composer and pianist of the 19th century, because the year of 2011 is Liszt’s 200th birth anniversary.

Air Traffic Control
HungaroControl, Hungarian Air Navigation Services Ltd. Co., employs over 650 people. It is responsible for managing air traffic control and provides air navigation services in the Hungarian airspace, and training for air navigation personnel at the Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport. It handles more than 600,000 flights each year, including 120,000 to and from Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport. HungaroControl handled a monthly average of 9,000 takeoffs and landings in 2010. To handle increased air traffic, HungaroControl has completed major radar projects using European Union (EU) Cohesion Funds. The estimated cost of the radar modernization project was EUR 38.79 million, 50 percent of which was financed by HungaroControl.

HungaroControl has started building a new 10,000 square meter air traffic control centre to achieve the objective of the Single European Sky directive. The new air traffic control centre has the most modern technology and the total value of the investment exceeds 40 million Euros which the European Union contributes to with nearly 6 million Euros in the framework of Trans-European Transport Network Fund. The foundation stone of the investment increasing the competitiveness of air navigation in the Central- European region was laid on March 28th, 2011 in Budapest. In addition to this new facility, HungaroControl inaugurated the first Flight Simulation Center in Central-Eastern Europe in May 2011.

The aim of the Center or Research, Development and Simulation (CRDS) is to help regional cooperation and the creation of Single European Sky concept. There is only one such center in Europe near Paris, France with similar capabilities.

In the initial phase, an up-to-date, IP-based communication system will be established in a three-level tower. In the second phase the customized, presently world standard MATIAS Hungarian Air Traffic Management system will be upgraded by Thales. The investment promotes the development of the whole region, and takes Hungary closer to the creation of FAB CE cooperation at the highest technical technological level.

The work in the new air traffic control system is expected to start in September 2012. At present air traffic control centre, HungaroControl will establish a unique air navigation knowledge centre, a single centre in Central-Europe where any airspace event can be modeled by being based on real data in an identical technological environment with the operational room. The 3-dimension tower simulator of HungaroControl presenting 360-degree cyclorama will be accommodated here, too.

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Posted: 30 August 2011, last updated 31 August 2011