Hungary for success: Routes Europe 201320 February 2013
Routes Europe is poised to cement its status as the continent’s preeminent routes development event as stakeholders from across the aviation industry prepare to gather in the Hungarian capital of Budapest in May for Routes Europe 2013.
The host of Routes Europe 2013, Budapest Airport, is working in partnership with the Hungarian National Tourist Office, the Hungarian Convention Bureau and Budapest Tourism to deliver this key industry event.
As the largest city in Hungary, Budapest is the country's political, cultural, commercial, industrial and transportation hub. Created in 1873 with the unification of the twin cities of Buda and Pest, it is technically one of the youngest capital cities in Europe, although the history of the settlement dates back as far as the second millennium BC, providing the city with a rich and varied culture.
Almost a year has passed since the Hungarian national airline Malev succumbed to bankruptcy. As a result, Budapest Airport witnessed a 40% decline in total passenger traffic, which equated to 3.3 million travellers. Half of these were transfer passengers that were lost almost immediately in the absence of a new national airline to replace Malev.
The airport team at Budapest Airport straight away acted to encourage new airlines to come on board and existing airlines to increase their flights. The airport immediately discontinued its investment programme, cut its operation expenditure by more than 20%, reduced its staff head count by 20% (which equated to more than 250 people), and closed down one terminal to avoid splitting operations and keep costs as low as possible. These tough but necessary measures helped to stabilise the situation.
The team at Budapest has been working tirelessly to establish new routes and increase frequencies of existing carriers. These initiatives have been a huge success, attracting additional aircraft from Ryanair and Wizz Air, which announced new destinations in the shape of Kiev (four flights a week) and Geneva (three flights a week).
More recently, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced an increase in frequencies to four times a day between Amsterdam and Budapest, resulting in low-cost carrier Transavia's decision to switch from Amsterdam to Rotterdam with four flights a week from Budapest.
Hosting Routes Europe will give Budapest Airport an unrivalled platform to once again attract airlines to Hungary, while airline delegates will have an invaluable opportunity to witness first-hand the market opportunities that the destination presents. Budapest Airport and its stakeholders are able to offer the highest level of engagement to attending airlines at Routes Europe.
Budapest Airport CEO Jost Lammers said: "We are delighted to host Routes Europe 2013. We sincerely believe that Hungary and Budapest is a worthy venue for such a prestigious and recognised industry event. The cooperation of Budapest Airport, the Hungarian National Tourist Office, together with the Hungarian Convention Bureau, and Budapest Tourism will no doubt guarantee delegates' satisfaction for both business and leisure purposes."
David Stroud, executive vice-president of event organiser Routes, stated: "It is an important year for Routes Europe and an important year for Budapest Airport. The collapse of Malev as Hungary's national carrier has had a huge impact on Budapest, but this does pave the way for other airlines to come in and take up the unique opportunity that Budapest's airport presents as a market.
"It is truly the centre of Europe and we hope that we can help to raise the destination's profile and in some way help to restore and develop their route network in the coming years. We look forward to working with the Budapest team in taking the event to the next level."