Budapest Airport, operator of Ferenc Liszt International (BUD), closed 2018 with a grand total of approximately 14.9 million passengers, making the airport the fastest-growing such facility in the CEE region, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.
Budapest Airport says that the solid growth figures are the basis of its long-term development plans, which include infrastructural investments valued at no less than EUR 700 mln in the upcoming year. A major part of the plan is the construction of a brand new terminal building.
The airport handled 14,867,491 arriving and departing passengers in 2018, nearly 1.8 mln more than the previous year, representing an annual growth rate of 13.5%. Air traffic movements increased in 2018 by 12% to an annual 115,028 take-offs and landings, which BUD attributes to better utilization of aircraft with higher load factors.
In 2018, Budapest Airport offered flights to 134 destinations in 48 countries by 45 airlines. For the first time, there were four direct transatlantic routes available for passengers, as LOT Polish Airlines offered flights to New York and Chicago, Air Canada connected to Toronto, and American Airlines offered daily flights to Philadelphia. LOT continues to fly during the winter, while Air Canada and American Airlines will return in the summer season of 2019 with daily flights.
Among the most important developments last year, Qatar Airways introduced a daily flight with a wide-body aircraft (Airbus A330) on the Doha-Budapest route, and also added two narrow-body connections a day through Qatar during the summer peak season. Wizz Air and Ryanair also grew their networks markedly, with the two airlines carrying almost half of the total BUD traffic in 2018. EasyJet, Aeroflot, and Turkish Airlines also saw increased numbers of passengers.
The airport expects the number of destinations to grow further in 2019, with LOT opening two flights per day to London City Airport in February, Transavia flying to Nantes, and Ryanair to Cork, Cagliari, Bari, and Seville in the summer of 2019. Furthermore, China Eastern Airlines is expected to confirm a new flight from Shanghai to Budapest from June.
The share of non-Schengen traffic grew from 35% to 37% last year, so the opening of Pier B serving these flights was a timely investment at Ferenc Liszt International, the press release notes.
"Our infrastructure investments go hand-in-hand with the growth of both passenger traffic and cargo volumes. The new 10,000 square-meter Pier B, handed over last year, has largely increased the comfort of our passengers flying to and from non-Schengen destinations," said Jost Lammers, CEO of Budapest Airport.
Lammers revealed that the company is planning a whole new series of investments in airport infrastructure by the year 2024, ranging up to EUR 700 mln, including the design and construction of a brand new terminal building next to the existing Terminal 2.
"This year we will hand over the new Cargo City of 20,000 sqm warehouse area that will better serve the needs of the Hungarian export-oriented economy and the logistics companies behind them," he added.
In the last two years, BUD has been working on internal improvements at both Terminal 2A and 2B to increase passenger comfort. The development will carry on this year, with two more passenger security lanes set to be installed. The refurbishment, enlargement, and capacity increase of washrooms, lounges and passenger waiting areas is also expected to materialize this year.
In the last 12 years, Budapest Airport has invested more than EUR 450 mln in developments and modernization projects aimed at improving both the airport and its infrastructure, according to the press release. The flagship project in the period was the construction of the new terminal building, SkyCourt, which connects Terminals 2A and 2B, while providing state-of-the-art passenger security control and baggage systems.