Following the last quarter of 2020, the volume of cargo handled at Ferenc Liszt International Airport increased further in the first quarter of 2021. The 39 529 tons of cargo handled from January to March means a 19.3% increase from the same period of the previous year, and is the strongest quarter in the history of the airport.
The 14,904 tons registered in March is the highest monthly cargo traffic ever at Budapest Airport. Cargo volume could reach 150,000 tons this year, according to Budapest Airport’s head of cargo. The company has begun to examine the potential further expansion of the airport cargo environment and the BUD Cargo City, a press release by the airport management company Budapest Airport Co. Ltd. says.
The logistics challenges experienced all over the world on account of the coronavirus pandemic have not appeared at Budapest Airport. Following the strongest quarter ever, head of cargo József Kossuth believes even 150 000 tons of air cargo could be achievable this year.
The outstanding cargo performance in Budapest is driven primarily by the handover of the BUD Cargo City in 2020, a state-of-the art 50 m EUR investment which has resulted in a dynamic increase in dedicated cargo flights, including the flights of the various integrator companies, whilst the volume of air cargo transported by road is also expanding strongly. Following a longer hiatus in 2020, belly cargo, transported in the lower, cargo decks of airliners, is showing a promising increase at the beginning of this year, but is still at historic lows, despite the record high overall cargo volumes.
The role of Budapest Airport as a regional air cargo hub is continuously strengthening, even during the pandemic. Air cargo arriving at Budapest Airport is not necessarily intended for Hungary; in many cases, the goods handled here are used to supply other Central and Eastern European countries. Hungary’s function as an “air bridge” is thus becoming more and more significant, especially with regard to far eastern countries, like China. Air freight plays a very important role in supplying the economy and retail, and thus, Hungarian society. What is more, it is often the only safe and viable solution. Its indispensable role is apparent in the case of logistics disruptions such as the one caused by the stranded cargo ship in the Suez Canal this March.
Since its handover, the BUD Cargo City has been a stronghold for air freight, and is making good progress towards functioning as the aerial gateway to East-Central Europe. The examination of a potential second phase of the air cargo handling complex has already commenced. Development works for BUD Cargo also include the implementation of additional air cargo facilities and, together with the cargo community and the Aviation Working Committee at the Association of Hungarian Forwarders, the development of the cargo environment, focusing on partners’ needs and expectations.
Due to its speed, efficiency and reliability, air cargo also plays a key role in the fight against the pandemic. In addition to “regular” air cargo, air freight is of crucial importance in supplying Hungary with vaccines and vital medical supplies, which is a top priority for Budapest Airport and its partners in the cargo community. During the first quarter of 2021, 85% of the more than 4.5 million doses of vaccines arriving in Hungary entered the country via Budapest Airport. This is one of the reasons why Budapest Airport decided to introduce the CEIV Pharma pharmaceutical logistics standard in Hungary at the beginning of 2021, with the professional guidance of IATA. This quality assurance system, whereby the members of the logistics chain can guarantee the safe handling of medical supplies in an easier and more traceable manner, is being supported by the Aviation Working Committee at the Association of Hungarian Forwarders and the Pharmaceutical Division of the Hungarian Association of Logistics, Purchasing and Inventory Management.
The airport handled 134 459 tons of air cargo in 2020. The continuous growth experienced since the end of last year and the 2021 results seen so far project another annual record for this year.
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