Liszt Ferenc Airport could have Hungarian owners again

There is an opportunity for Hungarian investors to buy Budapest Airport — and develop it more successfully.

While more and more passengers have been using the airport in Hungary’s capital in recent years, the owners have only delayed developments, with serious government pressure needed to build a terminal for discount flights. So far, however, there is no railway line to the airport, even though the plans have been completed and EU funding could certainly be obtained for the project, but the owners of Budapest Airport apparently will not build the line on airport property, or they want rent for use of the land. 

The airport was privatized back in 2005, when British BAA International Ltd. acquired 75 percent, minus one-vote stake, of Budapest Airport Rt. in 2005. Foreign investors thus received the right to operate and manage Liszt Ferenc Airport for 75 years in exchange for HUF 464.5 billion. The contract was signed during the time of the first Gyurcsány government, when János Kóka served as Minister of Economy and Transport.

According to Dávid Vitézy, CEO of the Budapest Development Center, the airport should never have been sold. European and international aviation organizations also recommend that airports be operated under public ownership because an airport with international traffic is essentially a monopoly, Vitézy claims.

Today, Budapest Airport has three foreign owners: a Singapore public investment fund, a Canadian pension fund and a Canadian airport operator.

Gábor Regős, chief analyst of Századvég Gazdaságkutató Zrt., told hirado.hu that it is critical whether Hungary’s air transport center is privately owned in Hungary or abroad; it also greatly matters whether the profit — some HUF 30 billion last year — will remain in the country or go abroad.

Now a consortium of domestic companies and businessmen is planning to buy the airport back from the foreign owners. 

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