Flying horses first at Budapest Airport


Fourteen racehorses bred in Hungary were flown to China last week from Budapest Airport. The Friesian and Shagya Arabian horses took off in special freight containers, accompanied by a team of carers and vets. This was the first live horse shipment from Budapest Airport to China.

More than a dozen Hungarian racehorses had been kept in a ground handlers’ warehouse at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, in special freight containers, prepared with great care for the long journey to Beijing and then to Wuhan. They were placed in the cargo hold of Cargolux’s Boeing 747-8F. Animals of this size can only be transported by air over such long distances, and only on board large aircraft types. From the Hungarian capital, they first made their way to Luxembourg, where they were prepared for the 12-hour flight to Beijing at the airline’s live animal station and then to the new owner.

According to Hungarian equestrian website, since the 2008 Olympics and the economic upturn, horse riding has become increasingly popular in China, with more than half a million people riding on a regular basis per year. Demand for the sport and the market for imported horses are growing dynamically. Hungary received the required permit for the aerial transportation of horses at the beginning of 2016.

Dénes Szigeti, air freight manager for Hungary for Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, which organized the transportation of the 14 horses, said: “These were unforgettable moments in our company’s life and we are really proud of this success story. We were making history; no forwarder has ever transported horses from Budapest Airport to China directly by regular flight. Our whole special live animal team was working on this transportation project side-by-side, which was a great success. Special thanks to the Hungarian live animal team for their dedication and hard work and also special thanks to all of the involved parties who helped us. Our dream has come true.” 

The airport handled more than 72,000 tonnes of cargo in the first half of the year, an increase of nearly 20% compared to 2016. Airport operator Budapest Airport Zrt. is transforming its cargo facilities as part of its EUR 160 million (HUF 50 billion) BUD:2020 Development Program, which includes two recently opened state-of-the-art integrator buildings, and a dedicated freight center called Cargo City, due to be completed in 2019.

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