Record-breaking streak continues at Budapest Airport

Payload Asia caught up with Budapest Airport’s team to discuss 2017, another year that will go down as record-breaking for the airport. Carrying on from the previous year, which also saw the Hungarian hub surpassing its previous achievements; Budapest Airport is setting the bar high in 2018 and determined to carry on its record-breaking streak.

Budapest Airport cargo city Jozsef Kossuth René Droese

Budapest Airport, the number one airport in Hungary and one of the leading airports in Central and Eastern Europe, services about 45 airlines, and celebrated a milestone of a throughput of 125,000 tonnes of air cargo in 2017.


Aerial view of Budapest airport


According to Jozsef Kossuth, Cargo Manager at Budapest Airport, a significant contribution to the cargo traffic number is attributed to the number of multinational corporations that are based in Hungary, especially the manufacturing and logistics industries; Commodities from imports and exports in the automotive and ICT companies have risen in past years, and of late supporting the booming e-commerce and pharmaceutical markets have kept the airport very busy.


“In terms of size, Budapest airport is not as large as say Shanghai, Frankfurt or Amsterdam, which are all major gateways, but we still fare quite well compared to them, especially for our size. We lifted a total of 112,000 tons of cargo in 2016 and had a 22 per cent growth rate, which we were very pleased with,” says Kossuth. But it didn’t stop there for the airport.


“2017 proved to be another record-breaking year. During the first seven months of the 2017 (January to July 2017) there was another 19.6 per cent increase, and we handled a record volume of 72,161 tonnes of cargo compared to the same period the year before. All segments of our community, including freighters, belly cargo, and integrator’s enjoyed volume increase in this period compared to 2016”


The 72,161 tonnes of recorded cargo were made of 49,420 tonnes of air cargo and 22,741 tonnes of trucked cargo, which also saw an increase of 26.5 per cent compared to the previous year.


Asia, North and Central America were the largest markets for the airport, each accounting for 45 per cent of total volumes, with the remaining ten per cent coming from the Middle East, South America, and Africa.


Continuous growth came from new freighters, such as Qatar Airways Cargo, the volume increase of current freighter partners, such as Cargolux and Turkish Cargo, and the belly cargo capacity of passenger operators, including Air China and Emirates Airlines. The LOT Polish Airlines services from Budapest to New York and Chicago, and the daily American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Budapest established direct belly cargo connections between Hungary and the cargo hubs in the USA.


Budapest Airport team. Left to right: Reka Sebestyen, Head of Property Development and Leasing, Rene Droese, Director Property and Cargo, Jozsef Kossuth, Cargo Manager, Budapest Airport


New Express Facility

Kick starting a new era for cargo at Budapest Airport, was the expansion of freight facilities, part of the EUR160 million (HUF50 billion) BUD: 2020 Development Programme, the opening of two state-of-the-art express facilities during the summer of 2017.


The new DHL Express and TNT Express warehouse and office complexes, which total more than 18,000 m2 have automated sorting systems and enhanced shipment processing capabilities. The facility has been designed to strengthen the airport’s regional role in the integrator business, with the new state-of-the-art facilities representing the largest air cargo development at Budapest Airport to date.


“DHL Express has already been present in Hungary for more than 25 years. The new lease agreement between Budapest Airport and DHL Express for another 15 years clearly reflects the commitment of Deutsche Post DHL Group to Hungary and the airport,” said Zoltán Bándli, managing director, DHL Express Hungary following the opening of the new warehouse.


“The 6,000 m2 warehouse capacity will give DHL space to accommodate the volume growth of our business, with the new state-of-the-art sorting technology, which includes fully automatic shipment processing, allowing us to process more than 6,000 pieces per hour, which is three times our current capacity.”


Cargo City

Commenting on future developments, Kossuth shared that the next freight phase of the BUD:2020 Development Programme will be the development of a dedicated freight centre, called Cargo City. It will be located next to Terminal 2, which is due to be completed and handed over in the second quarter of 2019.


Cargo City, which will include two new freighter stands for a pair of B747-8Fs, will provide centralised cargo operations, and expand the Hungarian hub’s cargo handling capacity to 250,000 tonnes per year. It will handle freighters operated by carriers including Cargolux, Turkish Cargo, and Qatar Airways Cargo, as well as belly cargo from other airlines.


As Budapest Airport also benefits from an extensive road network to 20 EU and non-EU countries, all within trucking distance, Kossuth explains that new area will not only have direct airside access through its warehouse gates, but also excellent road connectivity to the M0 ring road motorway (which is just 2 km away) and main road no. 4, leading to the Southeast of Hungary.


The new development will also cater to the needs of special cargo, with cool chain facilities. This comes at a time when the Hungarian hub is actively building a community approach in respect to cargo operations and is on course for IATA’s CEIV Pharma certification.


Given the growth in live animal exports, Budapest Airport has also planned for Cargo City to include dedicated facilities specifi cally for animals, making it possible in the next few years to fly almost any animal requiring special treatment or cargo from Budapest to any part of the world.


Therefore the new cargo centre is not only aimed at expanding the cargo handling capacity of the airport, but at providing centralised cargo operations, including handling companies and forwarders, customs clearance, and certified storage for special cargo, with a strong focus on temperature controlled goods.


“We believe this will be an optimal environment for air cargo. Our goal is to create efficient infrastructure and an ideal platform for air cargo distribution, which will be inviting for cargo partners, new airlines, and forwarders,” says Kossuth.


Budapest to become a Chinese Cargo hub

June 2017 saw Budapest Airport stepping into a written cooperation agreement with Ningbo International Airport; aimed at enhancing trade and commerce between Central Eastern Europe and China, further expanding economic cooperation bet  ween the two regions.


This was further cemented in November 2017, when Budapest Airport signed a cooperation agreement with STO Express from China and EKOL, a European 3PL, establishing a cargo transportation network to deliver e-commerce products that will arrive from China to European customers.


Rene Droese, director Property and Cargo, Budapest Airport signed the cooperation agreement on behalf of the Hungarian hub and commented: “On behalf of Budapest Airport, we warmly welcome this initiative by STO Express. Export-import between China and Hungary, and the entire Central and Eastern European region plays an important role in our rapidly developing market.”


STO Express, which named Budapest Airport as its preferred European hub, is operating scheduled weekly B747 cargo flights, which are certain to increase total cargo traffic at the airport.


Given the impact that e-commerce has had on the air cargo industry, and not forgetting what the forecasts say, by becoming a Chinese cargo hub, Budapest Airport has positioned itself to become a key regional player.