The Hungarian government intends to repurchase the right to operate Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport, and this deal is imminent, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the public media in Ludas, Serbia yesterday. The prime minister said that it was right that the country’s only major international airport was in Hungarian hands, and the economy was strong enough to do that.
“The purchase can be closed at any moment,” Orbán said.
If the state does manage to buy back the airport, he said there will be developments that will increase the value of the airport and thus the whole of Budapest by two or three classes.
The Budapest Airport management company was leased for 75 years, and in December 2005, the Socialist-Free Democrat government of Ferenc Gyurcsány decided to sell 75 percent minus one vote of ownership. The new owners have postponed significant improvements, and the industry environment has not always been favorable either.
After national airline Malév was shut down in 2012, budget airlines were the main clients of the airport, and in recent years, the pandemic has significantly reduced passenger traffic.
The woes at the airport has led the Fidesz government to direct serious criticisms against the airport operator’s activities and has put strong pressure to close the inadequate passenger facility for low-cost aircraft, the so-called “tin terminal.” Minister of Innovation László Palkovics announced this summer that the government intends to buy back the airport operator, and then some press reports said that negotiations were underway. The prime minister’s statement has now confirmed that these negotiations are in an advanced state.
The airport is currently owned 55.44 percent by German AviAlliance GmbH, which is also the de facto operator, with the other two owners a Singapore investment fund with 23.33 percent and a Canadian pension fund with 21.23 percent. According to press reports, the bidding Hungarian consortium is offering €4.44 billion for the airport, which the foreign owners are said to have found sufficient.