Budapest Airport signs agreements with two Chinese airports

Published: Sunday, April 28, 2019

Budapest Airport will cooperate closely with two major Chinese cargo hubs, in order to further develop aviation links between China and Hungary. This is the main goal of the cooperation agreement (memorandum of understanding) signed during the “Belt and Road Forum” summit held in Beijing.

Budapest Airport has stepped up its efforts to turn the premier Hungarian airport into a major distribution and logistics base for China in the Central and Eastern European region. This is the essence of the document signed by Wang Zhendong, deputy managing director of Xi’an Xianyang International Airport and René Droese, chief property and cargo officer of Budapest Airport in the presence of Péter Szijjártó, minister of foreign affairs and trade. Mr Szijjártó is representing Hungary at the Hungarian-Chinese Forum held parallel to the “Belt and Road Forum” summit in the Chinese capital. Budapest Airport will also sign a cooperation agreement with Zhengzhou International Airport in May this year 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. For this reason, we are delighted that a cooperation agreement between the airport of Xi’an and Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport is signed, as this agreement may link additional Chinese cities to the network where direct flights are available from Hungary, from Budapest. In addition to economic ties, our connections in tourism can also be developed further. Last year, a record number of 256 thousand Chinese tourists visited Hungary, representing a growth rate of 14 percent,” said Péter Szijjártó, minister of foreign affairs and trade, at the signing ceremony.

During the Hungarian-Chinese Forum, a series of other agreements were signed between the Hungarian and Chinese partners, in the field of investments and the pharmaceutical industry. The development of logistics and cargo fits in well with the efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to boost cooperation between China and Hungary in the field of trade and the development of joint projects. The support of Hungarian diplomats and trade promotion experts has helped Budapest Airport to double the weekly capacity of direct cargo flights between Budapest, Hong Kong and Zhengzhou, and also to enhance the belly cargo links on board scheduled Air China passenger flights between Beijing and Budapest.

“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. Zhengzhou, Xi’an and Budapest share a great dynamic of growth, and we are very confident that we can mutually benefit from this cooperation,” said Jost Lammers, the CEO of Budapest Airport.

The cooperating partners will highlight the dynamically growing Budapest Airport in China even more strongly, as a prime gateway to Central and Southeastern Europe. In addition to the tourism potential in passenger traffic (Shanghai Airlines will start three new direct flights per week between Shanghai and Budapest on 7th June), the aim is to develop freight flows between the Chinese locations and Budapest. This will be ensured by coordinating a regular, close exchange of information. Joint marketing campaigns and events are also planned, both in China and the CEE region.

Since the beginning of April, Cargolux has been operating two additional direct cargo flights per week between Zhengzhou, one of the fastest growing airports in the world, and Budapest. With Xi’an International Airport, located at the “gateway to the Silk Road”, in the industrial province of Shaanxi, Budapest Airport has gained a strategically important partner, to help develop the Hungarian capital airport into a regional cargo hub in Central and Southeast Europe for Chinese enterprises.

With a view to increasing demand from dedicated cargo operators, last year Budapest Airport launched a 32.6 million euro (approximately 10 billion HUF) project to construct a brand new Cargo City. The structure of the 21 600 square meter warehouse near Terminal 2 of Budapest Airport has already reached its final form. Next to it, earthworks are progressing at full speed on the so-called forwarder building. The latter will offer 11 200 square meters of warehouse space, combined with office space adjacent to the cargo operations warehouse and the new, 32 000 square meter cargo apron to be built this year, which will enable cargo operators to service two code F or Jumbo-sized aircraft simultaneously. The new cargo facility of Budapest Airport will be handed over to operators and tenants by the end of this year.