2/03/2012: Malev Ceases Operations after 66 years

2/03/2012: Malev Ceases Operations after 66 years

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Malév Hungarian Airlines (MA) ceased operations in 2012 after 66 years of service. The collapse followed several years of financial issues that had led to numerous state aid injections. The European Commission subsequently investigated these and ordered the airline to pay back any state aid received between 2007 and 2010.

The airline can trace its history back to 1946 when the national carrier Maszovlet was established following the end of World War II. It replaced three smaller Hungarian airlines forced to suspend operations during hostilities.

MA retired its last Soviet airframe in 2001. Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, SwitzerlandCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Western Shift

After years of operating Soviet-built airlines, during the late 1980s, MA added its first Western type in the form of the Boeing 737.

During the 1990s, the airline attempted to improve its efficiencies as it looked at privatization. This had begun in 1992 when Alitalia (AZ) purchased a 30% stake for US$60m.

The airline also operated several Boeing 767-200ERs and -300ERs on 1scheduled flights to New York (JFK) and Bangkok (BKK) as well as long haul charters to Asia, the Caribbean, Canada and the US.

Discussions with other airline partners into the new millennium included British Airways (BA) and Swissair (SR). However, the downturn in the aviation industry following the 9/11 terrorist attacks led to discussions falling through.

Three 767-300ERs were used between 1992 and 2008. Photo: Kristóf CsemniczkyCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


In 2007 the airline was finally fully privatized after 99.9% of its shares were acquired by the Russian consortium AirBridge. It aimed to return to profit within two years. 2007 was also the year that Malev joined the Oneworld alliance.

However, profits were not forthcoming, and the airline’s financial woes continued. In a statement issued on the day of the collapse, the airline’s then-CEO Lorant Limburger said, “This cash outflow accelerated to such an extent that the airline is now in an untenable situation. Against this background, the board decided to order [Malev] to end its proper functioning.”

Featured Image: Malev Boeing 737-300. Photo: Árpád Gordos (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons.

European Deputy Editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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