Budapest Airport has announced cooperation with two major Chinese cargo hubs to further develop aviation links between China and Hungary, after signing a memorandum of understanding at the Belt and Road Forum summit held in Beijing, the airport operator told the Budapest Business Journal.
The document was signed by Wang Zhendong, deputy managing director of Xi’an Xianyang International Airport, and René Droese, chief property and cargo officer of Budapest Airport, operator of Budapestʼs Ferenc Liszt International, in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó.
Budapest Airport is also set to sign a cooperation agreement with Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport in May, when a Chinese delegation is due to visit Budapest.
"Between two countries like these – with quite a distance between them geographically – strong economic cooperation is only possible if they are well-connected, which is why aviation connections, direct flights between Hungary and China, are of key importance," noted Szijjártó at the ceremony.
"For this reason, we are delighted that a cooperation agreement between the airport of Xi’an and Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is signed, as this agreement may link additional Chinese cities to the network where direct flights are available from Hungary," Szijjártó said. "In addition to economic ties, our connections in tourism can also be developed further. Last year, a record number of 256,000 Chinese tourists visited Hungary, representing a growth rate of 14%," the minister added.
The airport says that the support of Hungarian diplomats and trade promotion experts has helped it to double the weekly capacity of direct cargo flights between Budapest, Hong Kong and Zhengzhou, and to enhance belly cargo links on board scheduled Air China passenger flights between Beijing and the Hungarian capital.
"The foundation stone was laid with the direct connection to Zhengzhou, and now it is time to further intensify our cooperation with our new Chinese partners, and thus exploit the enormous potential in the freight business in particular," said Jost Lammers, CEO of Budapest Airport. "Zhengzhou, Xiʼan and Budapest share a great dynamic of growth, and we are very confident that we can mutually benefit from this cooperation," he added.
In addition to the tourism potential in passenger traffic (with Shanghai Airlines due to start three new direct flights per week between Shanghai and Budapest on June 7), the aim is to develop freight flows between the Chinese locations and Budapest, ensured by coordinating a regular, close exchange of information. There are plans for joint marketing campaigns in both China and the CEE region as well, Budapest Airport noted in its press release.
Cargolux has been operating two additional direct cargo flights per week from Zhengzhou since the beginning of April. With Xiʼan International Airport located at the "gateway to the Silk Road," in the industrial province of Shaanxi, Budapest Airport has gained a strategically important partner in developing the airport into a regional cargo hub in Central and Southeast Europe for Chinese enterprises, the press release adds.
Last year, Budapest Airport launched a EUR 32.6 million project to construct what it calls Cargo City. The structure of the first 21,600 square-meter warehouse near Terminal 2 of Budapest Airport has already reached its final form, with earthworks progressing at full speed on the so-called forwarder building next to it, the airport says.
The latter will offer 11,200 sqm of warehouse space, combined with office space adjacent to the cargo operations warehouse. The 32,000 sqm cargo apron to be built this year will enable cargo operators to service two Jumbo-sized aircraft simultaneously. The new cargo facility is expected to be delivered at the end of this year.