Today, Budapest Airport (BUD) announced its new growth strategy for Asia, set to launch in the new year, which includes the addition of several direct freighter and belly cargo routes to China. Although details on schedules and frequency are still to be determined, the new flights are expected to begin operations next summer.
The new strategy has been developed as a facet of the airport’s ongoing “BUD20:20” expansion program. The program, launched last year, includes the construction of a new “Cargo City” at the airport, designed to centralize operations, expand handling capacity and upgrade e-commerce capabilities at BUD.
The focus to develop connections with Asia also follows the airport’s addition of new AirBridgeCargo and Silk Way West Airlines freighter operations, earlier this year.
“The forwarder community in our region is seeking new ways to reach the Asia market; in addition to this we are witnessing an increasing demand from Chinese e-commerce companies for new, efficient distribution hubs in Eastern Europe, which amounts to a unique opportunity for us,” said René Droese, executive director of property and cargo at BUD.
BUD has a sizeable catchment zone in the Central and Eastern European region, and also serves as a transit node between Asia and Western Europe for the Chinese government’s Belt and Road initiative. Growing Chinese investments in the region’s electronics and automotive sectors, supported by warm diplomatic relations between the two countries, has led to greater cooperation between companies in both countries’ air cargo industry.
A delegation from BUD recently attended the Air Cargo Summit in Shanghai, where they met with Chinese e-commerce companies and China-based and international carriers. BUD is currently in discussion with several e-commerce companies, such as Alibaba Group, SF, ZTO and STO Express, to pursue a strategy of increasing imports from China. According to Droese, e-commerce is a “major driver of growth in the air cargo market, particularly in Hungary where we are seeing more than 25 per cent growth rate per year.”