Ferenc Liszt International Airport has lost more than 99% of its passenger traffic in April, on account of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Since the beginning of the crisis, Budapest Airport Zrt., the airport operator, has taken all possible measures to protect jobs. However, a headcount reduction amongst the employees of the BUD group has become inevitable, in the interest of the long-term and efficient operation of the company and the protection of the remaining jobs.
The coronavirus pandemic is exerting drastic impacts on the aviation industry all over the world. In April 2020, the busiest European airports all registered a loss of traffic of around 90% and airports with a similar traffic volume to Budapest generally saw traffic decrease by 99%. Based on the estimate of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), passenger traffic at European airports will not reach the levels seen before the crisis during the next two years, or even longer.
Traffic at Ferenc Liszt International Airport decreased by 99.3% in April, compared to April 2019. Whilst an average of 44 thousand departing and arriving passengers went through the airport per day in April 2019, this number hardly reaches 275 in April 2020.
Instead of the previous sixteen, passenger security screening is currently being performed through a single lane, all retail outlets at the airport are closed and significant parts of the terminal building have also been closed. The central passenger hall at the airport is practically deserted.
According to forecasts, people will fly less, due to economic or health-related reasons, once borders are reopened and air traffic resumes. In the coming two or three years, passenger traffic will therefore in all likelihood not reach the 17 million passengers forecast for in 2020, nor the 16 million registered last year. With consideration for the safe and efficient operation of the company, Budapest Airport is unable to maintain the employee headcount corresponding to passenger traffic of 16-17 million, and headcount reduction is thus inevitable.
The headcount reduction primarily affects positions where the amount of work to be performed has decreased significantly, due to the reduction in traffic. Budapest Airport will treat the employees affected by the headcount reduction in the most humane and fair manner possible. According to forecasts, passenger traffic will return gradually, as a result of a long process. Budapest Airport is ready for the safe operation of the airport and the gradual rebuilding of traffic, even with the headcount reduction.
In the short term, the BUD group has utilized all possible means available to employers to save as many jobs as possible. It postponed all employee and corporate events and offered standby leave (maintaining a part of the basic wage) and part-time employment to staff.
Thanks to these measures, it has become possible to reduce the magnitude of the originally planned headcount reduction, and for the future, we are reviewing the applicability of the individual elements of the job protection package announced by the government.
In addition, Budapest Airport has initiated the establishment of the For the Employees of the BUD Group Foundation, with the aim of supporting current or former employees whose social security, physical or mental health are threatened on account of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. All managers of the BUD group offered a large part of their April wages to the foundation, and thus, indirectly, to the colleagues who now find themselves in a difficult situation because of the crisis. The shareholders of Budapest Airport also decided to top up the funds provided by management.