MIAMI – Budapest Airport (BUD) expects to handle 5.5 million passengers this year, a far cry from last year’s 16 million passengers and 120.000 movements. BUD is the biggest airport in Hungary, situated 16 kilometers from the city center.

Since September 1, foreigners are not allowed to enter Hungary, further affecting Budapest Airport (BUD) operations. Exceptions include athletes and business travelers, who can enter with one PCR test. However, Hungarians cannot travel anywhere as most countries are labeled as “Not advised for travel” for them.

This also means that insurance is not valid in Hungary and the Consulate cannot help. Thus, When arriving back to Hungary, passengers must do compulsory 14-day isolation. The quarantine can be set off by 2 negative PCR tests and a long bureaucratic process. It costs a total of €220, which is only worth paying for urgent issues.

As a result, these strict rules wipe out all but necessary travel, making BUD statistics similar to its numbers in the Spring.

Photo: Budapest Airport

Ups and Downs

Since May, BUD traffic improved a lot. Passenger numbers in April were only 9.800 compared to the 1.3 million last year. In May, it raised to 22,000, then in June to 84,000. In all, this amount to a 95% reduction compared to last year.

The summer season then saw a huge increase in passenger numbers. There were 305,000 passengers in July and 394,000 in August. Flights resumed to most European destinations and new flights opened. New destinations included Abu Dhabi (AUH), Santorini (JTR), Chania (CHQ), Dubrovnik (DBV), Varna (VAR), Luxembourg (LUX), and Wroclaw (WRO).

Finally, September came, and traffic shuttered. The Hungarian Government introduced strict travel restrictions resulting in flight reductions. Wizz Air (W6) threw all but 12 routes in the dumpster, operating 30 weekly flights. Ryanair (FR) also canceled half of its Budapest network.

Budapest Airport celebrated its 70th birthday this year. Photo: Budapest Airport

Airport Infrastructure

Budapest Airport has used the time to improve its infrastructure. It completed Pier 1, a new low-cost airline boarding area. It has also done repairs, taxiway reconstruction and replaced the floor in Terminal A’s check-in area.

A bit more controversial, BUD built a brand new baggage sorting facility. While the airport needed the extra capacity, the edifice did raise some eyebrows. The new building is situated in front of the central waiting area (SkyCourt). BUD promised that it would not block the view. It does. It is also plain grey, which does not go with the airport’s design guidelines.

Featured image source: Budapest Airport