MIAMI – Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated today that the purchase of Budapest Airport (BUD) might be completed “any minute now.”

According to state news agency MTI, the purchase would be part of Orban’s efforts to reclaim what the government considers to be national interests.

Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, formerly known as Budapest Ferihegy International Airport and still referred to simply as Ferihegy, is the largest of Hungary’s four commercial airports and serves the Hungarian capital city of Budapest.

AviAlliance GmbH, originally Hochtief AirPort GmbH, is the company’s largest shareholder, with a 55.44% ownership owned by Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments). GIC Special Investments of Singapore and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) of Canada each own a bit more than 21%.

BUD Waiting area Sky Court. Photo: By Ato 01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27840933

“Owned by Hungarians”


The government announced interest in buying a controlling stake in Hungary’s primary international airport early this year, and earlier this month presented a revised offer to buy the airport from its foreign owners, according to Reuters.

Orban stated that the country’s largest international airport should be owned by Hungarians because “it’s only just,” and that the economy is strong enough for the government to repurchase it.

Orban previously stated that he wanted the airport to be in domestic hands, but the airport’s owners have shown no interest in selling it. Since coming to power in 2010, Orban’s government has worked to increase Hungarian ownership in key industries like energy, finance, and the media.

Despite prior indications that foreign shareholders wanted to preserve their interest, the amended offer earlier this month, which comes just before a national election scheduled for next spring, shows it may be even more difficult for them to do so.

Budapest Airport in 1961. Photo: By FOTO:FORTEPAN / Magyar Hírek folyóirat, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51007147

Early History of the Airport


The plan for a new airport in Budapest was conceived in 1938. The new airport will be located at the intersection of three settlements (Pestszentlrinc, Rákoshegy, and Vecsés). The airport was built with civil-military-sporting purposes in mind.

In the north-western sector, civil facilities were to be developed, while in the south-western section, military facilities were to be built. A public tender was called for the design and construction of the traffic building, just as it was for each other.

The designs of Károly Dávid Jr. (1903–1973) were chosen in December 1939, following the presentation of the results of the tender held in September of that year. From the top-side view, the designer, who was one of the forefathers of modern Hungarian architectural art, envisioned a structure that resembled an aircraft.

The project began in 1942. A 16-kilometer (10-mile) high-speed road was built between 1940 and 1943 to connect the city to the airport, and it is still in use today following renovations.

Military structures began to be built in parallel with civil structures in 1940 but were completed faster due to the war situation. In 1943, the airport became a hub for aviation. Civil construction stalled during the war and eventually came to a halt in early 1944.

Many of the airport structures were damaged near the conclusion of World War II. Budapest and its airport were occupied by the Soviets before the end of 1944.

Sky Court, the connection building between Terminals 2A and 2B which now houses the main departures waiting hall and shopping area. Photo: By Ato 01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31447955

Privatization in the New Millenia


The sale of BAA’s BUD shares, a 75% stake purchased in December 2005, to the HOCHTIEF AirPort Consortium was formally finalized and completed on June 6, 2007, by BAA and a consortium-led by HOCHTIEF AirPort (HTA).

At the time, the HOCHTIEF AirPort Consortium was owned by three financial investors: Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Montreal (23.167 percent), GIC Special Investments, Singapore (23.167 percent), and KfW IPEX-Bank, Frankfurt (49.666 percent) (4.0 percent ).

On 16 March 2011, the name of Budapest Ferihegy International Airport was changed to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

Before the pandemic, BUD was a fast-growing, medium-sized airport that profited from a surge in low-cost tourism.


Featured image: Budapest airport from the air. Photo: By SBL1980 – Own workOriginal text: selbst fotografiert, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51323406