ROUTES: Budapest targets long-haul as recovery continues

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Budapest Airport (stand N24) is on the lookout for new long-haul operators as it continues its rapid rebuilding after the collapse of home carrier Malev at the start of the year.

The airport, which will host Routes Europe next year, faced losing around 40% of its traffic when Malev ceased flights at the start of February. But a mix of additional capacity from existing airlines and new carriers including Ryanair, which rapidly set up base at the Hungarian airport, has put it on a recovery track. Its traffic is now less than 5% down on a year ago.

The carrier lost a network and alliance player in Malev, but point-to-point traffic has been running 15% higher over the summer.

Budapest Airport's head of airline development Patrick Bohl notes the airport has added eight new airlines and 14 new routes, but that existing operators have also benefitted. "The incumbent airlines are operating a lot more profitability with a lot higher yields," he says.

The airport also lost its New York JFK service when Malev's Oneworld partner American Airlines pulled out from the route in light of the Hungarian carrier's collapse. New York is one of the top long-haul routes on the airport's radar.

The airport points to data showing it is the biggest unserved European market from JFK and Toronto. “That makes these two flights a priority for us,” says Bohl. He adds that the airport also sees big potential for developing long-haul flights to Asia, including Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo.