Sponsored: Budapest Airport prepares to break more cargo records in 2024

Air cargo is typically an industry where the key to success is long-term sustainable development. It is no coincidence that Budapest Airport (BUD) is attracting the attention of the logistics industry, as 10 years ago, it was still taking its first steps in the cargo business, but now, it can already boast outstanding development indicators on a global scale.

In the first quarter of the year, the Hungarian capital airport handled 61,940 tons of cargo, an increase of almost 40% compared to the same period last year. This is particularly commendable in light of the fact that BUD is not turning the corner after a modest 2023, but it is gaining more momentum on a growth trajectory that has been unbroken for years. The annual volume of cargo handled at the airport has grown dynamically over the past decade, from 89,000 tons in 2014 to 219,000 tons by March 2024, an increase of almost 150% over 10 years.

Looking at BUD’s ambitious plans, the trend looks set to continue. A new cargo distribution hub for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is taking shape in Budapest, which is now in the same league as the most important cargo airports in the CEE region.

“We not only set a record last year, but also broke the 200,000 ton dream threshold in terms of volume. While neighbouring cargo airports have largely struggled to reach their highest pre-Covid numbers amid global economic and logistical challenges, we produced a 50% increase last year, compared to 2019. There is no stopping; we handled an all-time high monthly volume of 23,720 tons this March, and in the first quarter, we were already 93% ahead of 2019, in the early part of the year that is typically not so strong for cargo. This suggests that this year, we could grow even faster than last year. But we are not resting on our laurels, we are constantly developing to ensure that there should be no limit to further expansion. Well-prepared infrastructure and capacities await our new partners and shipments,” said cargo director József Kossuth.

The long-term strategic development behind the successes continues
The three main pillars of BUD Cargo’s development strategy are building world-class infrastructure, continuously expanding air connectivity and increasing the efficiency of the operational environment, in cooperation with the airport’s cohesive cargo community. The airport operator can celebrate innovations in all three areas in the first half of 2024.

BUD draws successfully on its ideal characteristics: its high-quality basic infrastructure and the excellent geographical location of the airport. The facility is located in the heart of the CEE region, along the trans-European transport network, with excellent motorway connections and at a strategic point between Western Europe and Asia, making it an optimal gateway for air cargo traffic.

Source: Budapest Airport

For years, the BUD cargo team has been spreading the word about the region’s potential around the world, building international relationships from Asia to North America, with impressive results. Dedicated cargo partners who have been cooperating with BUD for a longer period – Turkish Cargo, Qatar Airways, Cargolux, Sichuan Airlines, WizzAir (A330-200F operation) – are gradually increasing their capacities, currently operating 21-22 scheduled connections per week; integrators such as DHL Express, FedEx, UPS are stable and growing steadily in the long term.

In addition, new airline partners are emerging as cargo operators – most recently SF Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo, MyFreighter Airlines and Uzbekistan Airways – and a number of other charter operators are also making regular stops at the airport.

The development of belly cargo with widebody aircraft (Emirates, LOT, Korean Air, Shanghai Airlines and Air China) is also very encouraging and new opportunities are opening up in this area with the expansion of the passenger route network. For example, China Southern Airlines recently announced that it will connect the economic hub of Guangzhou and Budapest with four flights a week from June.

Budapest Airport has invested €80m in cargo development over the past 5 years, creating the BUD Cargo City, one of the best air logistics facilities in Central and Eastern Europe. The latest development phase of the state-of-the-art building complex, which represents a 40% increase in handling capacity, was opened for business at the beginning of the year.

This brings the total warehouse and office space to more than 40,000 sq m and the covered storage area to 1500 sq m, allowing for the handling of special goods, such as temperature-sensitive products or live animals, bringing the total air cargo handling capacity of the airport to 300,000 tons a year. The next phase of development, conceptual design and other preparatory works are expected to start this year, to ensure long-term, stable growth.

The airport reinforces its hub character not only in terms of physical infrastructure. In April, the state-of-the-art Airport Cargo Community System (ACS), typically used at the most advanced airports, was rolled out. The system is designed to provide a single platform for all members of the cargo ecosystem to communicate, document and manage their cargo-related tasks.

This renders paper-based data entry obsolete, as it is difficult to track in real time and often unnecessary, and users of the system are able to optimise their operations with up-to-date traffic data and reports, as well as process management, making it more efficient and sustainable. In addition to supporting the activities of business partners, the service can also facilitate authority functions, such as customs clearance or the checking of dangerous goods.

József Kossuth: “This year is all about building a more global portfolio on excellent foundations, with more and more direct or transfer cargo connections. I cannot emphasize enough that air cargo is a service business, so quality and customer satisfaction are particularly important to us. In 2024, we want to take this to an even higher level, and we are working on several projects in parallel, to further increase the competitiveness of our cargo community.”

Jozsef Kossuth. Source: Budapest Airport

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