( Is there anybody not familiar with the story of MALÉV, the Hungarian airline? Bunches of tourists travelled by MALÉV, many remember its commercials, or, at least, have heard about it. On 3 February 2012, MALÉV was shut down.

The long history of MALÉV started after the WWII. Its predecessor, the Hungarian-Soviet Civil Air Transport Joint Stock Company (Maszovlet) was established in 1946 after the shutdown of three smaller Hungarian airlines. That summer, the company purchased the first passenger planes, each capable of transporting 21 passengers, for domestic transportation. Yes, it may sound incredible, but back then, there were flights within Hungary from Budapest to Szeged, Debrecen, Szombathely and Győr. Today, you can get to these towns by travelling two hours by car.


The first international flight left to Bucharest in 1947, the first one on schedule left to Prague. In November, 1954, Hungary purchased the company from the Soviet Union, and named it MALÉV (Magyar Légiközlekedési Vállalat). The company launched its first flights to Western Europe, more precisely to Vienna, in 1956. Barely one month later, Ferihegy airport was opened (at that time, only with one terminal). The Revolution of 1956 reached MALÉV as well: the Soviets banned air traffic. It was permitted again in January 1957 between Budapest-Miskolc-Debrecen.


In 1960, the Budapest-Szeged flight ceased, but in 1963, the first MALÉV plane flew to Cairo. The majority of the domestic flights were ended in the same year, because the old aeroplanes were scrapped, and the airports were not able to serve the new ones.

The next milestone was in 1966, when the first MALÉV plane flew over the Equator. Two years later, the company purchased a jet-propelled plane. This was the TU-134, a two-engined, jet airliner, which made further countries reachable. By 1979, the passenger traffic of the Hungarian airport and the domestic airline had reached 1 million passengers per year.


Up to 1988, the majority of the fleet had been built up of Soviet planes. The first rented American Boeing 737 arrived in November 1988. Later, this became the main type of the fleet. Since the mid 30s no more Tu-airliners transported passengers, and in 2003, Boeing airliners were replaced with 737-NGs. According to the survey of the Association of European Airlines, MALÉV was the third most punctual airline in Europe. In the summer period of 2011, it launched flights to 52 settlements of 32 countries, and its passenger traffic reached three million annually.

Regarding its operation, after the End of Communism in Hungary, until 2007, only a minor part of the company was owned by the Hungarian state. By 2010, the company had taken on debts, and had become completely state-owned. Moreover, by this time, low-cost airlines had already appeared, among which it was Wizzair which initiated investigation on MALÉV at the European Committee, because the laws of the European Union prohibit the support of airlines from the budget.

In January 2012, the Committee decided that MALÉV being completely state-owned is unlawful, and it bound MALÉV to pay back the support given between 2007 and 2010. In addition, it prohibited Hungary to provide any kind of support to the airline. Finally, on 3 February 2012, MALÉV stopped flying.



[box] Watch the commercial of MALÉV here [/box]

Copy editor: bm


    Dear Szilvia, thank you for the beautiful pictures and the history of Malév. I remember that airliner very well because the stewardesses were very kind. Even on a little trip to Amsterdam (with a stop in Prague where everybod had to leave the plane and to come back in the same plane) drinks and food were served. I also remeber the rfequest to fill-out a document to leave a comment on the flight. I remember this because the registration-number of the plane had to be mentioned and I forgot to put the document in the box. During that particular flight I had the feeling that the floor and/of seats were moving a little bit. I was surprised to learn that some days later that plane had crashed near Bucharest. If you have any specific information about a girl that worked at Malév in 1966/1968 I would be very grateful to learn how she is doing!

  2. I am surprised that the ‘wise men’ in Brussel is attacking Hungary and making strange decisions. Malév had received some financial support from the Hungarian State which was ‘illegal’ according these strange people. But in 2009 France had pumped billions of euro’s in several industries to avoid loss of jobs. See this article:
    French government to pump € 6bn into ailing car industry
    • Fears grow for sector collapse without state aid
    • 200,000 European jobs estimated to be at risk
    Wednesday, 21.01.2009 00.01 GMT
    The French government yesterday offered the country’s carmakers up to € 6bn (£5.5bn) in aid after Carlos Ghosn, Renault’s chief executive, warned that without rapid state intervention, Europe’s entire auto industry faced collapse. Ghosn, president of the pan-European carma-kers’ body ACEA, pointed to a ‘brutal’ collapse in sales and squeeze on credit. He said: ‘The industry faces a crisis that is brutal, global and exceptionally large. We can even talk of the Great Depression of 1929’.
    ACEA, demanding € 40bn in aid, fears sales could collapse by up to 20%, with as many as 200,000 jobs at risk. It says EU cash injections so far are paltry compared with the $ 13bn (£9bn) given to US rivals. Ghosn’s comments, at a Paris summit with French ministers, came as the Sarkozy government said it would provide between € 5bn and 6bn – provided compa-nies preserved jobs, plants and component suppliers. François Fillon, France’s prime minister, said: ‘There can be no question of the state coming to the aid of a manufacturer which would decide to close, purely and simply, one or more production sites in France. They can’t say: We take [the cash] and jump ship elsewhere’.
    Ministers indicated they could force the car companies to suspend dividend payments in re-turn for the aid, which will have to be cleared by the European commission’s competition authorities. Paris is already in extensive talks with Brussels about its package, details of which are due in the next few days.
    Meanwhile, BMW, the German premium car group, said it would introduce short-time wor-king for 26,000 staff at 4 German plants in February and March, cutting production volumes by 38,000 cars. Overseas plants, including in Britain, are unaffected, though the UK plants have been told they will take fixed holidays this year – 1 week in February and 2 weeks in August. Volkswagen said it would put about two-thirds of its employees in Germany – 60,000 workers – on shorter hours for 5 days in the last week of February. BMW also confirmed that it was considering tapping Berlin’s € 500bn bank liquidity package for its own finance and leasing arm. France has already offered € 1bn to the finance arms of both Renault and Peugeot Citroën, the country’s 2 biggest car firms, while UK-based firms are demanding similar treat-ment.
    Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s chief executive, has already forecast there will be only half a dozen global auto manufacturers left within 5 years, while the French government is talking of 6 to 8. The Peugeot chief, Christian Streiff, said the risk of a big European firm going bust was ‘close to zero’, but others could disappear or be taken over.
    Günter Verheugen, EU-industry commissioner, said at the talks that some European plants would close as the industry consolidated and cut 20% overcapacity. Western European firms have switched production to Eastern Europe where Ghosn said costs per car were € 1,400, or up to 12% lower. Ghosn’s intervention is the most dramatic plea from Europe’s auto industry for aid to match that given to General Motors and Chrysler, with Ford waiting in the wings as President Obama enters the White House.
    In the UK, Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, said the union would fight any fur-ther redundancies at Jaguar Land Rover, amid speculation that another 1,300 jobs could be at risk. Jaguar Land Rover said that, together with the trade unions, it was looking at options other than redundancies to cut its cost base.

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