In spite of the global challenges caused by the pandemic, cargo traffic at Budapest Airport proved very strong in 2020. The airport handled 134 459 tons of air cargo last year and registered a record quarter at the end of 2020. The BUD Cargo City welcomed more than 6100 cargo flights, and has been operating at full swing since January 2020, as a stronghold in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Preparations for the second phase of the cargo handling complex will begin already this year.
Cargo traffic at Budapest Airport proved very strong in 2020, in spite of the difficulties caused by the pandemic. Ferenc Liszt International Airport handled 6118 air cargo flights last year, 17.6% more than in 2019. Cargo volume thus reached 134 459 tons in 2020, registering just a 0.8% decrease from last year. Cargo traffic, anyhow flying high, surged even higher towards the end of the year. The 38 868 tons of air cargo transported in the last quarter of 2020 not only exceeded the volume handled during the same period of the previous year by 4.28%, but is also the strongest quarter ever in the life of BUD cargo.
Budapest Airport and the cargo handling complex operating from January 2020 called the BUD Cargo City functioned as a stronghold in the fight against the global pandemic. Cargo charter flights transporting medical equipment and other healthcare supplies accounted for approximately 6% of last year’s cargo traffic, which meant the handling of around 350 dedicated flights in 2020, supplementing the important role of scheduled air cargo connections. Since the spread of coronavirus pandemic in Europe, the BUD Cargo City was prepared for the arrival of medical supplies, and commenced preparations in good time to provide the conditions necessary for the delivery and storage of the vaccine.
“The fact that cargo traffic at Budapest Airport remained stable during this extraordinary year is attributable to the exemplary perseverance of the cargo community. It is our strong intention to maintain the organizing and supporting role of the airport in this work,” said Dr. Rolf Schnitzler, the CEO of Budapest Airport. He added: “It takes numerous players, precise coordination and a strong base like the BUD Cargo City to handle the cargo traffic of the airport. We remain committed to continuously developing air cargo and the BUD Cargo City; in 2021, we will commence preparations for the second phase, the design and construction of more cargo handling facilities, warehouses and offices.
József Kossuth, cargo manager for Budapest Airport continued: “We have numerous other development projects under way, including, for example, supporting digitization needs required for the work of the cargo community, or the introduction in Hungary of the IATA (International Air Transport Association) CEIV Pharma certification system for the aerial transportation of pharmaceutical products, which is in the implementation phase. We believe that the airport and the BUD Cargo City will serve as a world-class, efficient and sustainable cargo gateway to Central and Eastern Europe, and will continue to support the national economy.”
Due to the coronavirus and its economic impacts, the proportion of exports and imports shifted from the previous 50-50% to 40-60% in the first half of 2020, and then normalized at 45-55% by the end of the year. Traffic has also been transformed; with the sudden loss of long haul, wide body airliners, their lower deck cargo capacity also disappeared. Market demand was therefore primarily satisfied by dedicated cargo flights. In this respect, LOT’s weekly passenger flight to Seoul and the two Emirates flights per week to Dubai brought significant cargo capacities back during the second half of the year.
The traffic of the integrator companies (DHL Express, FedEx (TNT Express), UPS) grew further at the airport in 2020. Budapest Airport celebrated the launch of three new dedicated cargo flights in 2020; Korean Air launched a cargo service to Seoul, Cargolux to Shenzhen and Hainan Airlines to Zhengzhou. Turkish Cargo chose the BUD Cargo City as its Central and Eastern European hub in 2020, and, in parallel, increased the number of its flights to four a week. Qatar Airways Cargo announced at the end of the year that it will operate with a larger aircraft type, the Boeing 777, going forward. Budapest Airport expects the launch of additional new cargo routes in the near future, including already in 2021.