There were days when no less than three Boeing B747 freighters were parked on the apron at Budapest Airport, showing the density of cargo traffic in and out of Hungary. On 20 December, several hundred calves were flown to Israel from Hungary on board an El Al Cargo Boeing 747 – a traditional means of transporting livestock between Israel and Hungary, supplying the breeders of cows in the Middle Eastern country. At the same time, aircraft jet engines were flown in from Chicago to Budapest by an Air Bridge Cargo 747, later followed by Air Atlantic and Sky Lease Cargo airlines Jumbos.
The most unusual cargo item was, however, quite another type of live “passenger”: a baby female hippopotamus, born at the Nyíregyháza Zoo, in Eastern Hungary, and traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia. In order to be transported, the hippo needed a standard pallet-size waterproof cage, with sufficient ventilation. The pallet-box was loaded at Budapest Airport into the belly cargo compartment of Emirates’ Boeing B777-200 on its daily Budapest-Dubai flight, and flown to Indonesia with a stopover and transfer in Dubai. The hippo was not the only “special care” cargo item at Budapest Airport. In early November, 14 Przewalski’s horses were flown from a Hungarian national park to a sanctuary in Southern Russia, to be returned to the wild, into their earlier natural habitat.
“Budapest Airport, together with its ground handling partners, is ready to accommodate any high-value, special cargo that may emerge, including live animals for breeding purposes or thoroughbred horses for sports” said René Droese, director property and cargo for Budapest Airport. He added: “Last year, we witnessed an outstanding 22.7 % increase in our cargo traffic – a clear indicator that the Hungarian economy is doing well, and the demand for export by air of high-value products like electronics or pharmaceuticals is growing. Also, our foreign partners find more and more advantages in flying their cargo directly to Budapest, due to its central location in the heart of Europe. Cargo airlines at BUD provide worldwide access for air cargo, and demand amongst logistics companies for their efficient direct and transfer transport solutions is increasing.”
In terms of cargo developments, in 2017 BUD will finalize the construction of two new office and warehouse facilities, and hand them over to DHL and TNT Express. Both projects are part of BUD 2020, a five-year development program launched last year, which also includes the construction of the Cargo City project, with 16,000 sq meters of warehouse and office space next to Terminal 2, with opening scheduled for the end of 2018.