MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Hungarian flag-carrier Malév (MA) made its maiden flight in 1954. This came after the Hungarian government purchased the Soviet shares of former national carrier Maszovlet.
Masovlet was formed at the end of the second world war in 1946. It replaced three smaller Hungarian airlines 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 -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 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: The Ilyushin Il-14 formed the backbone of the carriers fleet until its retirement in 1970. (Photo: Lars Söderström, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons).