DALLAS — Today in Aviation, Hungarian flag carrier Malév (MA) made its maiden flight in 1954 after the Hungarian government purchased the Soviet shares of the former national carrier, Maszovlet.
Masovlet was founded in 1946, at the end of World War II. It replaced three smaller Hungarian airlines that were forced to suspend services during hostilities. Domestic flights from Budapest began using the Lisunov Li-2. International flights began in 1947 from Budapest (BUD) to Prague (PRG).
In the 1980s, Malév began phasing out its Russian aircraft in favor of Western types. Tupolev TU-134s and TU-154s were gradually replaced by Boeing 737-200s, which first arrived in November 1988. Its first Boeing 767-300ER arrived in April 1992, and long-haul routes to New York (JFK), Beijing, Toronto, and Bangkok were added.
But MA was struggling financially. There were various attempts to streamline the carrier’s operation and return it to profit. In 2007 a Russian consortium known as Airbridge took a 99.9% controlling stake in the airline in a deal worth over $100 million.
A Russian development corporation Vneshekonombank purchased 49% of these shares two years later.
The airline was brought back under state ownership in 2010 when a Hungarian holding company acquired 95% of its shares. The carrier limped on for another two years.
The European Union had demanded that state aid given to the airline between 2007 and 2010 was to be paid back and that no further aid be given. Without this financial assistance, Malév had no choice but to suspend operations on February 3, 2012.
Featured image: Lisunov Li–2P of Malev in 1956. Photo: By Unknown author – http://fortepan.hu/?image_id=5087, CC BY-SA 3.0