Commentary Ariport

Budapest flight cancellations highlight sorry state of old Ferihegy 1 terminal

While the number of passengers and cargo volumes at Budapest Airport has been on the rise for the last five years, this growth is not without its problems, conservative daily Magyar Nemzet reports.

A Wizz Air flight inbound from Stockholm on Wednesday night narrowly avoided a much more serious accident when its tires were shredded by a loose chunk of concrete on the runway. As far as it is known, the landing gear has also been damaged. Thankfully, the plane managed to taxi to the terminal on its own landing struts.

The chunk of concrete was likely torn out by pressure from a previous departure’s jet engine.

The problem was further aggravated by the fact that of the two runways at the airport, the newer runway 2 was at the time still undergoing maintenance, meaning that about a dozen inbound flights had to be diverted to nearby (in flight time terms) Vienna or Bratislava while several departing flights were either cancelled or had to take off from alternative airports.

In the early 2010s, when national airline Malév was dissolved, Budapest airport was essentially fighting for survival, but by now it is thriving: last year it posted a net profit of HUF 24 billion (EUR 75 million), so it is all the more difficult to understand how the older runway and its passenger buildings are still in such a state of disrepair.

Stranded passengers posted messages on social media that several hundred of them were forced to wait in ankle-deep water in a terminal building for hours. With runway 2 now back in service after a complete overhaul, the issue has been postponed, but by no means solved. Budapest may be winning tourist destination awards, but its gate must also be up to par.

Budapest Ferihegy Airport is owned by an international consortium and is a hub for Polish airline LOT and Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air and the local subsidiary of Czech budget airline Smartwings. Last year it had 14.9 million passengers, up by 13.5 percent from 2017.

Title image: Ferihegy 1 terminal of the Budapest Airport

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