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Budapest Airport passenger traffic rises in December

Budapest Airport Zrt, which Hochtief AG is buying from BAA Plc, said the number of passengers rose in December as tourist traffic picked up after street riots in the capital city earlier in the year.

A total 520,521 passengers passed through Hungary's biggest airport in December, an increase of 0.4% from the same month of 2005, the company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Total passenger numbers for 2006 also rose 4.2% to 8.3 million. Hungary's tourism industry was hit by anti-government protests and street riots in September and October.

Reservations at hotels were canceled because of the street violence in Budapest. „Tourism in Hungary has been negatively affected by the autumn disturbances, but we hope that the small increase in passenger traffic in December is a sign that tourism is beginning to improve once more,” Budapest Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said in the statement. The airport operator is working to attract more airlines to Budapest, he added.

The number of passengers at the airport dropped 4.2% in November after an increase of 1.5% in October. Hochtief, Germany's biggest construction company said October 20 it plans to buy the airport from BAA less than a year after losing out in a bidding contest. BAA, acquired in June by Grupo Ferrovial SA, bought a 75%-stake in the airport from the Hungarian government a year ago for £1.26 billion (€1.9 million). (Bloomberg)