Editorial: Logistics are our Lifeblood
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Logistics are essential to just about every business going. Without them, you can’t receive the raw materials you need or shift your goods to the shops. Little wonder, then, that it was the focus of the latest CEO Breakfast Briefing the German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Hungary runs with the Budapest Business Journal.
Businesses have always understood their dependence on logistics, but I suspect that hasn’t always been the case with the general public, who traditionally probably didn’t think much about it beyond their personal transport needs. I think that began to change with the pandemic, and it was underscored by the supply chain disruptions that followed.
René Droese, chief development officer at Budapest Airport, agrees with my thesis. When not much else was moving through the terminals (he said there could be as few as 50 passengers a day at the height of the lockdowns and travel bans), the cargo was. Suddenly, the role the airport played became a matter of strategic importance. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó referred at the time to an “air bridge” between Budapest and China. Droese recalled that “even Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stood on our apron” to welcome a cargo flight.
That was no small thing for the airport, considering that the government had not always given the impression it thought it was well run and had made a non-binding offer to buy a majority stake in the early summer of 2021, then submitted a revised bid in October of that same year, according to international news wire Reuters, before eventually balking at the price.
But while COVID may have boosted the public perception of logistics, and it certainly saw the amount of air freight rise, Droese made the point that it was never enough to offset the missing millions of passengers, and there is no doubt that is where Budapest Airport makes its money.
We did not just speak about the past, though. Ádám Mészáros, country managing director at DHL Express Hungary, gave some fascinating insights into the challenges of finding more sustainable technologies while also underlining that, while moving road or air freight to rail might seem like a good idea, the infrastructure is “ultra-thin,” and there simply isn’t the capacity. Our other panelists, Ádám Tálosi of East-West Intermodal Logistics Plc. (which runs an intermodal facility in northeast Hungary, near the borders with Slovakia and, especially, Ukraine), and Thoralf Wagner, CEO at Lufthansa Technik Budapest Ltd., also had plenty of interest to share.
We are in the process of producing a podcast from the roundtable discussion that formed the highlight of the March 7 CEO Breakfast Briefing event: look out for it in the Podcasts section of our budapestbusinessjournal.com website soon. I heartily recommend it; it is not often you get to explore a subject such as this in greater depth, and I found some of the data that came out of it genuinely fascinating.
This editorial was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of March 10, 2023.
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