Following the record set in 2016, Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport again carried previously unseen amounts of cargo volumes during 2017. The airport’s operations seem to be flying high on all fronts, with growing passenger numbers, and continuous developments.
Budapest Airport, the operator of the Ferenc Liszt airport, which has the stated aim of becoming the Central European hub, handled a total of 127,145 tons of cargo in 2017, growing by 13.4% from the preceding year’s then record of 112,143, and by 39.1% when compared to 2015’s total of 91,422 tons.
And such progress shows no immediate signs of slowing: the Hungarian airport saw record figures of cargo volume in the beginning of 2018 too. Figures for the first two months of the year came to 21,750 tons, which constitutes a 17.4% rise in volume as compared to the same two months of the previous year.
The Hungarian hub wound up 2017 with a balanced market share, with imports at 47.8%, and exports at 52.2%, according to data recently published by the operator. Budapest Airport is preparing for direct flights to the United States of America from May of this year, which is seen as likely to give a further boost to figures.
Besides the United States, the cargo reach from Budapest airport is visibly vast. “Our cooperation agreement with STO Express and EKOL last year is testament to our continuous commitment to strengthening links between China and the European Union,” said René Droese, director of the property and cargo business unit at Budapest Airport.
“As a result of being designated the preferred hub for air cargo by STO Express, e-commerce is set to experience a notable upswing at Budapest,” he added.
Beyond developments related to commercial flying – such as the expansion of the terminals, addition of new parking places and the recently opened ibis Styles hotel for the airport – the so-called Cargo City project is also developing fast, with further expansion in store.
“Thanks to our development program, we will be able to cover the entire cargo catchment zone, from Ukraine to Czech Republic, and from Poland to Bulgaria, where the relevant air cargo industrial production is booming,” Droese said.
With the anticipated twice-a-week flights of LOT Polish Airlines’ cargo to Chicago and four per week to New York, not to mention the American Airlines’ daily service to Philadelphia, the cargo hub of the Budapest airport has leveraged a strong network, creating direct links between the USA and Hungary.
“We expect further growth of 20,000 tonnes of belly cargo capacity annually thanks to the belly capacity on flights from Qatar Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, and American Airlines,” Droese explained.
As part of the current EUR 160 million BUD:2020 Development Program, Budapest Airport opened two new express facilities with a total of 16,000 sqm in the summer of 2017. Cargo City — a 20,000 sqm dedicated freight center that is also part of the BUD:2020 project – will be handed over in the second quarter of 2019, and will expand the hub’s cargo handling capacity to 250,000 tons per year, according to the operator.
Budapest Airport has announced the refurbishment of the second section of Runway One at the capital’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport through an investment of EUR 5.2 million, financed from the operator’s own resources. The project is yet another part of the BUD:2020 Development Program.
The works are taking place between March 12 and June 30, during which time the airport will be operating a single runway. The project includes the refurbishment of the concrete pavement and most of the ground lighting system: cables, electric manholes, and lights will be replaced.
In the first stage of the reconstruction, Budapest Airport replaced a 900-meter section last year in the so-called touchdown zone. In the second stage, works will affect the next 1,400-meter length in the middle of the runway, a total of almost 33,000 sqm of concrete surface.
Beyond the replacement of the concrete pavement, several other important developments will be completed on the runway, including the upgrading of ground lighting systems. A total of 160 lamps and almost 90 ground lighting manholes will be replaced or reconstructed in line with the latest European standards, and the cables of the primary electric loop supplying runway lights will also be replaced (300 kilometers of cables combined), the operator says.
In the last phase of the works, the instrument landing system will be upgraded on the south-eastern landing area of the runway. As with the previous system, the new ILS will aid pilots to approach and land on the runway in low-visibility conditions, but is capable of significantly more precise operation than the previous system, Budapest Airport added.
During the development, “350 people as well as 250 vehicles and machines will be working on site to ensure that the airport can be operated with two runways again from the beginning of the peak summer season in July”, said Stephan Schattney, chief technical officer of Budapest Airport. He added that the quality of the surface of the runway as well as the related complex infrastructure demanded by contemporary aviation require continuous maintenance and renewal.