Budapest Airport and state-run Henan Civil Aviation Development Investment & Co Ltd have strengthened their mutual Road and Belt initiative in the field of air cargo. Last Saturday, the framework for future development, cooperation and exchange of information was laid down in an agreement signed by the two parties at a meeting held in the Hungarian Capital. The paper was inked on the fringes of the first Air Cargo Day ever held in the Eastern European state.
Since April, a Cargolux Boeing 747F connects the capital city of Henan province in central China with Budapest, serving the route twice a week. These freighter flights are seen by both sides as
the beginning of a prosperous commercial relationship. This tie-up is politically not only intended but strongly supported and seen particularly by the Chinese as part of their ongoing Belt and
Road initiative. And as an addition to the existing and steadily expanding rail connections between China and Europe via central Asia or Russia, depending on whether the southern or northern
track is selected.
The agreement signed now in Budapest will lead to an increase of air traffic between Zhengzhou and Budapest, especially in cargo flights, was the tenor during and after the meeting.
“Sino-Hungarian relations were never as positive as right now. Direct investment by Chinese firms has reached 4.5 billion USD, and these enterprises create 15,000 jobs for Hungarians,” emphasized Tamás Menczer, state secretary at Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the occasion of the meeting.
“Budapest Airport offers the ideal location for transporting goods between Europe and Asia, along the Aviation Silk Road. The cooperation agreement signed with the HNCA is the next big step in intensifying cooperation with our Chinese partners and making Budapest Airport the leading cargo hub in Central Eastern Europe,” commented Jost Lammers, the CEO of Budapest Airport, after the signing ceremony.
The economic forum was attended by 140 delegates and experts from both countries.
First Hungary-held Air Cargo Day
Simultaneously with the Sino-Hungarian meeting, more than 100 local cargo experts had gathered at Budapest Airport’s Terminal 1, attending the first “Air Cargo Day Hungary” conference held there.
The gathering, the first of its kind, was arranged by IATA and Budapest Airport and was attended by airlines, freight forwarders, handling agents and members of various regulatory bodies. Key issues were digitalization in the air cargo field and other technological innovations which are on the market or in planning process.
The presence of regulatory bodies was a welcome sign at the conference as much emphasis was placed on the fact that average transport time for air cargo amounts to six days, whereas over 25% of this time is taken up with border controls and other administrative work. Discussions here centered around how the industry can or should be more innovative to shorten transit times even further. Budapest Airport is investing large amounts of money and expertise with the aim of positioning the airport as the central Eastern European air cargo hub in the future.
John Mc Donagh / Heiner Siegmund