Matolcsy argues against buying Ferenc Liszt Int'l

Transport

Photo by Budapest Airport

"There are several important reasons why we should not buy Liszt Ferenc International Airport, as we must strive to reduce the economic, demographic, and spatial predominance of the capital," National Bank of Hungary (MNB) governor Gyorgy Matolcsy wrote in an op-ed piece published on the website of daily Magar Nemzet on Monday.

Matolcsy argues that the timing of the purchase is unfavorable as the coronavirus pandemic has caused an economic crisis. This crisis has been successfully managed but at the cost of a soaring budget deficit, growing state debt and FX debt, a deterioration in the current account, and rising inflation. The planned repurchase of the airport from an FX loan therefore poses a serious financial risk that is not worth taking.

The sale of the Budapest airport was a national strategic sin and an economic strategic mistake, but the "golden rule" of investments is to buy cheap and sell high, however in this case the repurchase price would be very high, Matolcsy said.

The MNB governor also argued that the Carpathian Basin does not require a global air transport hub, but it does need an advanced aviation network. This will require a medium-sized central airport and several smaller, regional smart airports, which will be hubs for freight, drone-based transports, air taxis, and other new services. Such airports could be in Debrecen, Miskolc, Pécs and Kecskemét/Szeged.

Matolcsy wrote that by no means should Budapest's central economic role be strengthened by repurchasing the airport and then developing it. Instead, he promoted the idea of building a brand new central airport about 100 kilometers out from Budapest (in the area bordered by Esztergom, Győr, Székesfehérvár, Veszprém, Dunaújváros, Kecskemét, Szolnok and Eger), with a mandatory high-speed train to the center of the capital.

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