Budapest Airport Faces Major Development after State Takeover

After almost twenty years, the Liszt Ferenc International Airport is once again owned by the Hungarian state. The official handover ceremony on Tuesday was attended by Minister for National Economy Márton Nagy and the CEO of French owner Vinci Airports, Nicolas Notebaert, who also gave a speech. The Hungarian government has concrete plans for the future of the airport in the next decade, Világgazdaság reported.

“I am very happy to be standing here on behalf of the Hungarian state, because this means that the state has certainly bought this airport,” Márton Nagy said in his speech. He noted that the co-investor is an excellent partner and the state could not have chosen a more experienced one. “The purchase price was EUR 3.1 billion, the loan behind it was EUR 1.44 billion,” he added. In total, the Hungarian state acquired an 80 percent stake. The price was determined proportionally. He stressed that the Hungarian state participated in the transaction as a market investor and therefore used the assistance of several law firms, meaning that the investment is entirely market-based.

The government has prepared a joint business plan with Vinci. “The Hungarian state will not operate the airport, but will entrust it to competent market investors. The state is only involved as a financial and strategic investor,” the minister explained.

As for the plans set out, they want to increase the number of passengers from the current 15 million to nearly 20 million by 2030, and then aim for 25 million.

As he said, the airport is the gateway to the country and the biggest contributor to the country’s tourism. The state and the co-investor are keen to develop the airport and build a new terminal and service facilities.

The minister acknowledged that the access to the airport is inadequate and it is the responsibility of the state to develop the infrastructure, including the high-speed rail and the development of a hotel and parking outside the airport. “It is very nice to say that passenger traffic is increasing, but we need a bigger terminal and we need to get people to the airport,” said Márton Nagy.

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“The issue of the train is more difficult than the development of the road,” the minister said in response to a journalist’s question, adding that the engineering work is more complex because a tunnel will be needed. János Lázár, the Minister for Construction and Transport, is in charge of drawing up the plans, with the big issue being the financing.

Terminal 3 should be completed by 2032, and the infrastructure should be in place by then,

he said. In the coming weeks, the cabinet will discuss alternatives, but he indicated that this would not necessarily have to be financed from government budget. “Developing the railways will cost at least HUF 400 billion (EUR 1 billion), while the roads will be slightly cheaper,” he added.

Responding to another question, Márton Nagy announced that

the government would abolish the extra taxes on airlines from January 1, 2025.

As is known, Gergely Gulyás, the minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office, announced the day before that the government would extend the extra-profit tax and impose a protection levy on banks and multinational companies.

The Vinci CEO said that the development of tourism is extremely important for infrastructure. Vinci Airports is present in Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom, with a total turnover of EUR 5 billion and an investment of EUR 1 billion. This year they celebrated 20 years in business, during which time they have operated 75 airports.

He pointed out that they will develop the airport on the basis of a common vision, and that they have great confidence in the Hungarian team. “The biggest steps will be taken soon,” the CEO added. Referring to the strong summer passenger traffic, he noted that “more capacity is needed, we need to grow, for that we need investments.” Planning has already started, including the development of Terminal 2, followed by Terminal 3. “Hungary is a dynamic country, open for business, and we want to strengthen our role as a hub,” Mr Notebaert concluded.

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Via Világgazdaság, Featured image: Facebook/Budapest Airport

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