Aerial view of the airport
Budapest Ferihegy International Airport (Hungarian: Ferihegyi Nemzetközi Repülőtér or simply Ferihegy) (IATA: BUD, ICAO: LHBP) is the international airport serving the Hungarian capital city of Budapest, and the largest of the country's five international airports. The airport offers international connections primarily within Europe, but also to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. In 2007, the airport served 8.6 million passengers.
Budapest Ferihegy International Airport is located 16 kilometres (10 miles) east-southeast of the centre of Budapest, accessible by the Üllői road. The airport is named after master brewer Ferenc (Feri) Mayerffy, the former owner of the land upon which the facility is located.
Ferihegy can accept the Boeing 747, Antonov An-124 and Antonov An-225 but most of the traffic comprises Airbus and Boeing twinjets and some long-haul Boeing 767s. Weather seldom diverts aircraft, when this does happen planes usually land at Bratislava or Vienna.
On 8 December 2005, a 75% stake in Ferihegy Airport was bought by BAA plc for 464.5 billion HUF (approx. 2.1 billion USD), including the right of operation for 75 years.
On 20 October 2006, BAA announced intentions to sell its stake in Budapest Airport to a consortium led by the German airports group, HOCHTIEF AirPort GmbH, subject to the consent of the Hungarian State.
On 18 April 2007, the renovation of Terminal 1 at Ferihegy was awarded Europe’s most prestigious heritage preservation prize, the Europa Nostra award. The designers, contractors, builders and investors (the latter being BA) received the joint award of the European Commission and of the pan-European heritage preservation organisation Europa Nostra for the renovation of the protected monument spaces, the central hall, the gallery and the furniture at T1.
On 6 June 2007, BAA and a consortium led by HOCHTIEF AirPort (HTA) formally closed and completed the transaction of the sale of BAA’s shares in Budapest Airport (BA) to the HOCHTIEF AirPort Consortium.
Designing and construction (1939–1944)
In 1938 the idea of building a new airport in Budapest was born. The area in the boundary of three settlements, Pestszentlőrinc-Rákoshegy-Vecsés, was assigned as the area of the new airport. The airport was intended as jointly for civil-military-sporting purposes. Civil facilities were to be built up in the north-western and military ones in the south-western section. Just as for each building, a public tender was invited for the designing and construction of the traffic building.
In December 1939, upon announcement of the results of the tender invited in September that year, the designs of Károly Dávid Jr. (1903–1973) were chosen. The designer, who was one of the originators of modern Hungarian architectural art, dreamt of a building which resembled an aircraft from the top-side view. The work commenced in 1942. To approach the airport from the city, a 16-kilometre (10 mi) high-speed road was constructed between 1940 and 1943, which, after improvements, remains in use today.
The military buildings were constructed parallel to the civil construction from 1940 but, due to the war situation, faster. Aviation started at the airport in 1943. In wartime, the civil construction slowed down and then stopped at the beginning of 1944. Towards the end of World War II, many of the airport buildings were damaged. By the end 1944, Budapest and its airport were under Soviet occupation.
In 1947 it was decided that the airport would be reconstructed for civil aviation. Under the three-year plan 40 million forints were voted for those works. The opening ceremony was held in May 1950 and the sections finished allowed Magyar-Szovjet Polgári Légiforgalmi Rt. (Hungarian-Soviet Civil Aviation Co. Ltd. – MASZOVLET), established in 1946, to operate here. At that time the airlines operated only a few foreign flights, in particular those to Prague, Bucharest, Warsaw and Sophia.
Magyar Légiforgalmi Vállalat (Hungarian Airlines – Malév) was established on 25 November 1954. The first regular flight taking off from the airport to the West was the Malév’s flight into Vienna in summer 1956. The first Western airline which launched a flight to Budapest was KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in 1957. The traffic building was finished in this period and the lengthening works of the 2,500-metre (8,202 ft) runway were started. At the end of 1958 the runway was lengthened to 3,010 metres (9,875 ft) and taxiway D was finished.
Continued growth (1960–1980)
The number of landings at Budapest Airport has increased from 4,786 at the opening to 17,133 and in passenger traffic from 49,955 to 359,338 by 1960.
In 1965, a study was made on the development of the airport, which was implemented with more than a 10-year delay from the end of the 1970s. Aviation, airport and flight control all called for more capacity and infrastructure. The Aviation and Airport Directorate (LRI) was established on 1 January 1973 and performed as an airline company, a trade company and an authority, as well as investment, operator and air navigation tasks.
In 1974, the passenger traffic of Budapest Airport reached one million. In 1977, a new control tower was built as well as a second runway parallel to the old one and a technical base for maintaining MALÉV aircraft. Use of the new 3,707-metre (12,162 ft) runway was started in September 1983.
New infrastructure (1980–2000)
In 1980, the number of landing aircraft and passengers served reached 32,642 and 1,780,000, respectively. The growing number of passengers called for more capacity. A new terminal was decided upon. The foundation-stone of the new passenger traffic building to be built was laid down on 16 November 1983. As from 1 November 1985, passengers are received in Terminal 2, a facility in an area of 24 thousand square meters implemented from Hungarian loans under general contracting. It was used by the aircraft and passengers of Malév and then by those of Lufthansa, Air France and Swissair. The old terminal has continued to receive the traffic of the airlines of other countries under a new name, Terminal 1.
In 1990 more than 40,0000 take-offs and landings were registered and 2.5 million passengers were served.
In 1993, Malév launched the airport’s first Hungarian overseas flight to New York. According to the traffic figures forecast for the millennium, the two terminals serving 4 million passengers a year promised to be insufficient. The construction of Terminal 2B was started in 1997. The new building of an area of more than 30 thousand square metres, together with the traffic apron, was opened in 1998 and all the foreign airlines moved there. It can receive 3.5 million passengers a year with its seven stands near the building provided with passenger bridges and five remote stands.
Public to public-private ownership
In January 2002, in lieu of the liquidated Aviation and Airport Directorate two new organisations were established. HungaroControl became responsible for air navigation and Budapest Airport Zrt. for operation of the airport. Between 1998 and 2005, passenger figures at Budapest Airport doubled – from 3.9 million to 7.9 million and major investments were called for.
This time, the Hungarian State, sole owner of the airport, opted for a partial privatisation with the integration of a private strategic partner with international experience. In June 2005, the State’s privatisation agency initiated a tender for a concession. Seventy five percent minus one vote of Budapest Airport Zrt.’s shares were to be given to new private owners. The tender was finalised by the end of the year and the British company BAA, owner and operator of the major British airports, took over the management of the airport company.
One and half years later, in June 2007, there was a change in the management when the new owner of BAA decided to dispose of its shares and sell them to the German company HOCHTIEF AirPort and three financial partners.
An expenditure of 261 million euros is planned for expanding and modernising the airport’s infrastructure. Among the projects are:
Ferihegy airport has three main terminals: 1, 2A and 2B, and a smaller one for general aviation flights. A new air cargo base is to be built. Transfer between terminals 2A and 2B can be made on foot. The older Terminal 1, however, is located further away (i.e. closer to the city of Budapest) and must be reached by bus. From the city center, Terminal 1 can be reached by MÁV train directly and Terminal 2 is served by BKV bus.
On 30 March 2008, all Hungarian airports joined the Schengen Agreement and all Schengen flights moved to Terminal 2A, while non-Schengen flights moved to 2B. Terminal 1's low cost carriers were also separated by a glass wall into Schengen and non-Schengen traffic. On 26 July 2010 Ferihegy Airport temporarily lost its EU Schengen Zone clear status and passengers flying out from Budapest may be subjected to repeat security screening when transiting to other flights.
An open-air viewing platform for relatives and spotters is located at Terminal 2, currently closed for the duration of "Sky Court" expansion works. A large balcony with free entrance is available at Terminal 1 and offers good view of low-cost carrier fights boarding, as well as most aircraft taking off, when the wind prevails from the west.
From 1 September 2005, re-opened Terminal 1 serves all low-cost carriers. This terminal is divided by a glass wall into Schengen and Non-Schengen destinations.
The terminal was totally renovated in full compliance with the requirements of monument protection, since the building is one of the finest examples of architectural modernism in Hungary as well as in Europe. The Terminal 1 building is unusual in that it resembles the shape of an aircraft, when viewed from above.
Terminal 1 is unusual among low-cost airline destinations, being located within the premises of Budapest proper and offering better public transportation connections compared the 7 kilometers more distant Terminal 2. (Terminal 1 offers 15 minute direct train journey to Budapest city centre, while Terminal 2 requires busing or taxi cab / car journey to reach major Hungarian surface transportation hubs).
Terminal 2A (originally Terminal 2, then renamed in 1998) was inaugurated on 1 November 1985, served mainly the flights of Malév Hungarian Airlines, but from 30 March 2008, it serves all Schengen destinations.
Although connected to Terminal 2A, it is referred to as a separate terminal (opened in December 1998). It serves all non-Schengen destinations.
Airlines and destinations
Safety and security
There was an IED bus attack against Russian Jewish emigrants on the road leading to Ferihegy in the early 1990s. The perpetrators were members of the German Communist organisation Red Army Faction. There have been no terrorist incidents since then.
On 26 July 2010, after completing a novel security oversight investigation, inspired by the Delta Airlines' Amsterdam "panty bomb scare" incident, the EU authorities revoked Budapest Ferihegy Airport's official "Schengen Clear" certification, due to serious lapses observed in personal security check procedures and unauthorised passing of banned objects. (Hungarian state news agency MTI reports: )
This "unclear" restriction under the so-called "April Directives on Enhanced Personal Air Safety Screening within the EU", means air travelers flying from Budapest to other airports in the Schengen Zone, may be subjected to another round of security screening after landing. This causes delays before they are allowed to transit to further flights and aircraft arriving from BUD Ferihegy may need to be re-inspected from a security viewpoint, before they are allowed to board again and fly to further destinations.
Because of such consequences, flight delays have already set in on both Ferihegy-1 and -2 terminals and unusually long passenger waiting queues were observed at the more busy Ferihegy-2A/2B terminal complex. Budapest Airport management urges all passengers to arrive at least two hours in advance of the advertised last boarding time for their flight and preferably 3 hours in the busiest periods to guarantee enough time for completing check-in security.
Budapest Airport management blamed loss of certification on the novelty of such undercover testing procedures, Ferihegy being the first major European airport to undergo the stringent evaluation, which is very difficult to meet due to BUD Airport's layout, with great distances between Terminal-1 and Terminal-2. Nonetheless, six lower-ranking BUD Airport employees were fired and several others demoted because of the fiasco.
The airport management plans to submit to a new round of EU certification checks as soon as possible. The re-certification checks take approximately 6–12 weeks and are hoped to complete succssfully by 15 October, when start of the heating season requires that passenger waiting queues do not extend beyond the Ferihegy Terminal-2 entrance gates.
In response to the scandal, the Hungarian Ministry of Transportation quickly proposed to restore the full independence of Hungary's Aviation Authority, blaming the fiasco on the diminished oversight role and resources the aviation branch has possessed during the years of previous government, when the aviation regulation bureaucracy was integrated into the oversized Hungarian Transportation Safety Authority organization.
On 19th September 2010, passengers waited up to one and a half hours in Ferihegy Terminal 2 security lines, resulting in delayed flight departures.
Hungarian State Railways runs suburban and long-distance services between Terminal 1 and Nyugati Railway Station in Budapest city centre through Kőbánya-Kispest. The trip takes approximately 25 minutes.
Buses, mini buses and shuttles
An Airport Bus departes Ferihegy every 10 minutes, providing connectivity to the city centre and Budapest's metro. The Budapest Airport Minibusz operates an airport shuttle service that takes passengers to any destination in the city. Other shuttle services also offer transport into the city from the airport.
Taxis are available from the taxi stand, however only one taxi company (Zóna Taxi) is authorised to use the airport cab stands. They operate under a zone-based fixed-rate system.
Nearly all major rental companies operate at Ferihegy.
Amenities and services
Facilities include ATMs (except within the international transit area, where the passenger must exchange currency), bureaux de change, left luggage, first aid, duty-free shops, child care, post office, a chapel, restaurants, tourist information and hotel reservations. There are facilities for disabled passengers and wheelchairs are available from the airport help desks. A short walk away from Terminal 2 there is an open-air aircraft museum. Short and long-term car parks are situated close to the terminal buildings.
The airport has GSM phone coverage. Wi-Fi is provided by Pannon and 230 V power outlets are available at some places.
Malév has the most flights at the airport. The largest foreign airline (in terms of passengers carried from and to Budapest) is Lufthansa, which serves Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Milan-Malpensa, and Munich nonstop.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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