Budapest aims to become the hub for air cargo from China


Budapest Airport is aiming to become the air cargo hub for goods arriving from China, having signed a cooperation agreement with two major logistics companies.

The airport signed the agreement with China’s STO Express and European 3PL company, EKOL, which has a strong presence in Hungary at the annual conference of the “16+1 cooperation” initiative, comprising of China and 16 countries from the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region.

At the economic, commercial and financial forum, STO announced it is developing its relations with the CEE region, and Budapest Airport has been designated as the hub for air cargo transportation, and together with Hungary-based EKOL, it will establish a cargo transportation in the near future to transport Chinese goods through Budapest to customers in Europe.

STO Express operated its first Boeing 747 Freighter service, filled primarily with e-commerce goods, to Budapest on 3 November in the colours of Silkway Italia, initially as a charter flight, but following the agreement it will operate scheduled cargo flights.

Budapest Airport director of property and cargo, Rene Droese says: “Export-import between China and Hungary and the entire CEE region plays an important role in our rapidly developing market.”

“We believe that Budapest and Budapest Airport provide the best place for distribution by STO Express in CEE, and we will do our best to prove this in the near future. Our new air cargo base, the Cargo City, will commence operation in the summer of 2019.”

Cargo volumes at Budapest Airport have been growing rapidly, handling 103,700 tonnes between January and October, an increase of 14.5 per cent, with exports making up 52 per cent of the total and imports the other 48 per cent.

E-commerce in Hungary has grown 20 per cent this year, accounting for five per cent of retail sales in the country.

Online transactions totalled $600 million in the first half of 2017, and are expected to drive demand for air cargo services.