Budapest advances aviation links to China in agreements with Xi’an, Zhengzhou

Today, Budapest Airport (BUD) announced that is signing cooperation agreements with two Chinese cargo hubs – Xi’an (XIY) and Zhengzhou (CGO). The airport said the move is an important step forward in its efforts to increase connections with Asia and denotes China’s growing interest in Hungary. 

With the support of Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, BUD signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with XIY during the Hungarian-Chinese Forum being held parallel to the “Belt and Road Forum” summit in Beijing this week. BUD will also sign an MOU with CGO next month, when a Chinese delegation is due to visit Budapest. 

Under these new agreements, BUD said it will work closely with the two Chinese airports to further develop aviation links and freight flows between Hungary and China. The airports will exchange information regularly to support these efforts. Joint marketing campaigns and events related to freight and logistics are also planned, both in China and Central Eastern Europe. Details regarding these upcoming campaigns and events have not yet been disclosed. 

“The foundation stone was laid with the direct connection to Zhengzhou, and now it is time to further intensify our cooperation with our new Chinese partners, and thus exploit the enormous potential in the freight business in particular,” BUD CEO Jost Lammers said. “Zhengzhou, Xi’an and Budapest share a great dynamic of growth, and we are very confident that we can mutually benefit from this cooperation.” 

BUD has sought to attract Chinese cargo operations to its airport as part of its ongoing “BUD20:20” expansion program. The program launched last year, includes the construction of a new “Cargo City” at the airport, designed to centralize operations, expand handling capacity and upgrade e-commerce capabilities. BUD recently completed construction of its Cargo City’s 21,600squaremeter warehouse space and is now building the adjacent freightforwarder building, as well as a 32,000squaremeter cargo apron with space for cargo providers to service two code F or widebody aircraft simultaneously. Cargo City will be opened to operators and tenants by the end of this year. 

It appears that BUD’s efforts are paying off, as the airport is garnering increased attention from Chinese businesses and gaining traction as a key node within the Chinese government’s Belt and Road initiative. In February, Shanghai Airlines, in partnership with China Airlines, announced plans to launch a thrice-weekly passenger route with belly cargo service between BUD and Shanghai Pudong (PVG), beginning June 7. 

BUD, CGO and XIY will likely welcome increased cargo out of Hungary, as a series of other agreements and investments were established between Hungarian and Chinese partners during this week’s Hungarian-Chinese Forum, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry. 

On the Chinese side of these agreements, the cooperation with BUD will also support the individual development plans of XIY and CGO. CGO recently announced its plans to sign a strategic cooperation agreement with Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor, while XIY recently welcomed Atran Airlines’ new freighter service linking the airport to Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO). 

In addition to bolstering XIY and CGO’s individual development plans, the agreement with BUD will enhance the airports’ competitive stance against other Chinese airports – such as Nanchang (KHN) and Ezhou (EIS) – that are also expanding and developing cargo operations.  

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