To-day, May, 7., the Budapest Airport celebrates its 65th anniversary of its opening.
“Sixty-five years ago on this day, the new airport of the Hungarian capital commenced operation.
The historic event occurred on 7 May 1950, when a Li-2 passenger aircraft flew to Ferihegy from nearby Budaörs Airport. This marked the beginning of civil aviation at Budapest Airport. In the first year of its operation, the airport handled 7133 passengers. In 2014, this number exceeded 9 million.
The history of Ferenc Liszt International Airport, previously called Airport Ferihegy, stretches back even further than 1950. The area was zoned as a dual use, civil and military airport already in 1938,but the Second World War intervened. Although the construction of a unique, Bauhaus-style passenger terminal designed by architect Károly Dávid Jr. began, focus shifted to the hangars of the Hungarian Air Force and the Aviation Experimentation Institute; there was hardly any civilian traffic. The airport was bombed by the Allied forces several times in 1944, and it was only rebuilt by 1950 (according to the original designs). It welcomed the first Li-2 passenger aircraft (a Soviet version of the American Douglas DC-3 Dakota, built under license) on 7 May. At the time, the concrete runway at the airport was only 1500 meters long, which was gradually extended to accommodate jet aircraft. Runway I was completed, with its current length of 3000 meters, in 1958. By the 1970’s (1974, to be precise), the annual passenger number exceeded 1 million, and Terminal 1 was no longer able to handle the traffic. As a result, in 1977 the design and construction of a new control tower, a parallel runway II (3700 m) and a new technical base with aircraft repair hangars commenced. Terminal 2A, which today handles Schengen passengers, was completed in 1985. Due to the continuous traffic growth, further developments were necessary,and Terminal 2B was handed over in 1998.Significant organizational changes occurred in 2002, when air traffic control (HungaroControl) split from the previously all-encompassing state organization LRI (the Aeronautical and Airport Directorate), and Budapest Airport Zrt. as airport operating company was also established. Following successful privatization, Budapest Airport Zrt. operated under British management from January 2006, before an international consortium led by HOCHTIEF AirPort purchased 75% of its shares in June 2007. The Hungarian State retained the remaining 25 % +1 vote until the summer of 2011, when it decided to exercise its option right and sold the minority stake to the majority owners. During privatization, the new owners undertook to invest 261 million EUR (75 billion HUF) into development projects, which was fulfilled by 2012 and has been significantly exceeded since then, with the total value of developments currently in excess of 320 million EUR (approximately 110 billion HUF). In January 2013, with the acquisition of HOCHTIEF AirPort, Canadian company PSP Investments became the largest owner, and the company handling HOCHTIEF’s airport assets was renamed AviAlliance GmbH.
The biggest development project undertaken was the construction of the SkyCourt, a new passenger building linking Terminals 2A and 2B, for approximately 100 million EUR. Handed over in 2011, the elegant and high-quality SkyCourt (chief architect: Zoltán Tima– KÖZTI) provides an unforgettable architectural and travel experience, as well as a rich selection of shops and restaurants. The new terminal has made traveling through the airport simpler and more convenient, and has expanded throughput.
Budapest Airport suffered the greatest crisis in its history on 3 February 2012 with the grounding and eventual bankruptcy of the Hungarian national carrier Malév. Passenger traffic decreased by several hundred thousand that year as a result, transfer traffic was virtually eliminated, and the number of aircraft movements dropped to a level last seen in 2002. With the loss of the Hungarian flag carrier, Budapest Airport suffered severe financial damages, was forced to suspend a number of developments, including its Cargo City project, implemented a mass redundancy and closed the historic Terminal 1, in order to increase the efficiency of its operations. In spite of the crisis, the operator continued to invest into key developments and new services at the airport. Immediate and significant steps were taken to replace the lost routes and flights, as a result of which BUD managed to achieve an all-time passenger record in 2014.
Budapest Airport won the best airport in Eastern Europe award from British aviation analysts Skytrax, both in 2014 and 2015. The Skytrax award is one of the most prestigious accolades an airport can receive. The developments are continuing in 2015 and over the coming years as well, at least to a value of 5 billion HUF annually.
History holds many ups-and-down but the background figures speaks for itself … the traffic at the terminals were the grounds to 39 airlines, which transported 9.15 million passengers to 88 airports in 74 cities in 35 countries in 2014.”
Press release from Budapest Airport.
Update by Aggie Reiter