Budapest, December 12 (MTI) – The Heviz-Sarmellek airport near Lake Balaton is likely to see a one-third decline in passenger numbers this year as the decline in Russian passengers could not be offset by an increase in tourists from other countries, the airport’s managing director said.
Attila Benko told MTI that the airport is on pace to register 22,000 passengers in 2015 compared with the 33,000 recorded last year. Benko said the drop is primarily due to a decline in Russian passengers, adding, however, that the decrease in turnover would have been greater had it not been for a rise in the number of passengers from other countries.
Most of the passengers arriving at the Sarmellek airport in 2015 were from Germany, but the number of Hungarian passengers also increased thanks to the launch of a new charter service to Turkey in the summer, Benko said.
Despite the lack of regular incoming flights from Moscow in 2015, the airport is set to receive another Russian charter flight at the end of the year and further four in January.
Benko said the airport has seen an increase in private jet traffic in recent years, with most jets arriving from Germany and Switzerland. The airport has also received more planes from the Czech Republic, Poland and Scandinavia recently, with Slovenian, Croatian and Romanian aircraft also landing in Sarmellek occasionally.
Passengers from several countries choose to land at the Sarmellek airport because it serves as a fixed border crossing point, allowing constant entry into the Schengen area.
Heviz Mayor Gabor Papp (Fidesz) said the airport is set to expand its charter service to Turkey next year and hopes to launch a low-fare flight to London.