Budapest Ferihegy International Airport (Hungarian: Ferihegyi nemzetközi repülőtér or simply Ferihegy) is the international airport serving the Hungarian capital city of Budapest, and the largest of the country's five international airports. It is also the second largest airport in the new EU member states. The airport offers international connections primarily within Europe, but also to Asia, the Middle East, and North America. In 2007, the airport served 8.6 million passengers.
The airport is located east-southeast of the centre of Budapest, accessible by the Üllői road.
Ferihegy is large enough to accept any kind of aircraft, including the Boeing 747, Antonov An-124 and Antonov An-225 but most of the traffic comprises Airbus and Boeing twinjets, flying to and from European cities, and some long-haul Boeing 767s. Weather seldom diverts aircraft, when this does happen planes usually land at Bratislava or Vienna.
On 20 October, 2006, BAA plc announced intentions to sell its stake in Budapest Airport to a consortium led by the German airports group, HOCHTIEF AirPort GmbH, subject to the consent of the Hungarian State.
On 6 June, 2007, BAA and a consortium led by HOCHTIEF AirPort (HTA) formally closed and completed the transaction of the sale of BAA’s shares in Budapest Airport (BA) to the HOCHTIEF AirPort Consortium .
In 1938 the conception of building a new airport in Budapest entered on the agenda. The area in the boundary of three settlements, Pestszentlőrinc-Rákoshegy-Vecsés, was assigned as the area of the new airport. The Airport was intended as one jointly for civil-military-sporting purposes. Civil facilities were designed to be built up in the north-western and military ones in the south-western section. Just as for each building, a public tender was invited for the designing and construction of the traffic building. In December 1939, upon announcement of the results of the tender invited in September that year, the designs of Károly Dávid jr. (1903-1973) proved to be the most feasible for implementation. The designer, who was one of the originators of modern Hungarian architectural art, dreamt of a building which resembled of a large aircraft from the top-side view. The works were commenced in 1942. For approaching the airport in 16 km from the City a high-speed road was constructed between 1940 and 1943. The end of the high-speed road contacted into main road 4 in the vicinity by a concrete road alongside the western side of the airport. After several improvements and enlargements, this road provides for accessibility of Budapest Airport by road even nowadays. The military buildings were constructed parallel to the civil construction from 1940, however, due to the war situation, at a faster pace. Active aviation started in at the airport around 1943. In the wartime, the civil construction slowed down and then it entirely stopped in the beginning of 1944. Towards the end of World War II, the great part of the airport buildings already finished and semi-finished were in ruins or strongly damaged. By the end 1944, Budapest and its airport were under soviet occupation.
In 1947 it was decided that the airport would be reconstructed for civil aviation purposes. Under the three-year plan 40 million forints were voted for those works. The solemn opening ceremony was held on Sunday, 7 May 1950 and the sections finished allowed Magyar-Szovjet Polgári Légiforgalmi Rt. (Hungarian-Soviet Civil Aviation Co. Ltd. – MASZOVLET) established in 1946 to operate here. At that time the airlines operated only a few foreign flights, in particular those in Prague, Bucharest, Warsaw and Sophia. In initial times, Budapest Airport was used only by regular flight aircraft of countries pursuing a policy similar to that of Hungary. When Magyar Légiforgalmi Vállalat (Hungarian Airlines – Malév) was established on 25 November 1954, these activities were merged into that new company established only with Hungarian participation. The first regular flight taking off from the airport to the West was the Malév’s flight into Vienna in summer 1956. The first Western airline which launched a flight to Budapest was KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in 1957. The traffic building was entirely finished in this period and the lengthening works of the 2500 m runway were started due to appearance of larger crafts. At the end of 1958 the runway lengthened to 3010 m and taxiway D was also finished.
With respect to Budapest Airport’s traffic, the number of landings at Hungary’s single international airport has increased from 4,786 at opening to 17,133 and in passenger traffic from 49,955 to 359,338 by 1960. Regular and occasional passenger and cargo transport aircraft departed to more and more countries. In 1965, an overall study was elaborated on development of the airport, which was implemented with more than a 10-year delay as from the end of the 1970s. Aviation, airport and flight control all called for more capacities and new infrastructure. The Aviation and Airport Directorate (LRI) was established on 1 January 1973 in order to carry out extended tasks and to separate its activities performed as an airline company, a trade company and an authority as well as its investment, operator and air navigation tasks. In 1974, the passenger traffic of Budapest Airport reached one million. Due to the speedy increase in the number of aircraft flying through the country, several new projects are realized. In 1977, the new control tower was built as well as a second runway parallel to the old one and a technical base intended for maintaining the MALÉV aircraft. Use of the new 3,707 m runway was started in September 1983.
In 1980, the number of landing aircraft and passengers served reached 32,642 and 1,780,000, respectively. The growing number of passengers called for extended capacities in handling the traffic. A new terminal was decided upon. The foundation-stone of the new passenger traffic building to be built was laid down on 16 November 1983. As from 1 November 1985, passengers are received in Terminal 2, a facility in an area of 24 thousand square meters implemented from Austrian loans under general contracting. It was used by the aircraft and passengers of Malév and then by those of Lufthansa, Air France and Swissair. Due to its large-sized apron, its stands near and remote from the building, and its six passenger bridges, Budapest Airport has become one of the up-to-date airports again. The old terminal has continued to transact the traffic of the airlines of other countries under a new name, Terminal 1. In 1990 more than 40 thousand take-offs and landings were registered, 2.5 million passengers were served and 75 thousand aircraft were navigated in Hungary’s airspace, which number has increased manifold up to over 350 thousand by the end of 1995. As from 1993 summer, Malév launched the airport’s first Hungarian overseas flight to New York. The development of aviation has not stopped and, due to the changes that took place in the country, new improvements have been commenced. According to the traffic figures forecast for the millennium, the two terminals serving 4 million passengers a year promised to be insufficient. The construction of Terminal 2B was started in 1997. The new building of an area of more than 30 thousand m2, together with the appurtenant traffic apron, was opened on 8 December 1998 and all the foreign airlines moved there. It can receive 3.5 million passengers a year with its seven stands near the building provided with passenger bridges and five remote stands.
As from January 2002, a new chapter started in the life of the airport again. In lieu of the liquidated Aviation and Airport Directorate two new organizations were established. HungaroControl became responsible for air navigation and Budapest Airport Zrt. for operation of the airport. It should set up a modern and economic airport which provides services coming up to European standards and connects our country closely with other regions of the world. The task had become a decisive one though, as passenger figures were exploding and it was hard to keep pace with the demanding growth of the aviation industry. Within 1998 and 2005 alone, passenger figures at Budapest Airport doubled – from 3.9 million to 7.9 million. Again, major investments were called for. This time, the Hungarian State, sole owner of the airport so far, opted for a partial privatization. The integration of a private strategic partner with international experience was said to have a positive effect on the future development of the airport and was hoped to provide for new transport connections to the city, new car parking and shopping facilities, new terminal capacities and a quicker and better service. In June 2005, the State’s privatization agency initiated a tender for a concession. 75 percent minus one vote of Budapest Airport Zrt.’s shares were to be given to new private owners. The tender was successfully finalized by the end of the year and the British company BAA, owner and operator of the major British airports, took over the management of the airport company. Only one and half years later, in June 2007, there was a change in the management when the new owner of BAA decided to dispose of its complete shares and sell them to the German company HOCHTIEF AirPort and three financial partners.
Until 2011, Budapest Airport Zrt. will be investing more than 261 million euros in expanding and modernizing the airport’s infrastructure. With the planned investments, the company aims at meeting the demand of growth while improving customer service and comfort. The new Budapest Airport will promote further economic growth for the region and will create additional jobs.
Among the projects are:
BUD Skycourt: A new terminal building named BUD Skycourt will connect Terminal 2A and 2B. Preparatory works have started, the ribbon cutting ceremony is expected in 2009. The BUD Skycourt is designed to merge the flow of all passengers through the airside retail area and link all gates on the airside. It will help passengers move through the terminal in a more relaxing way. There will be additional shops on the departure floor and bars and restaurants on the mezzanine level. BUD Skycourt will double the existing commercial space of the airport and also improve security processes with a new, centralized area for security checks.
New Piers: Two new piers with 16 new airbridges will be erected at Terminal 2.
Apron development: More than 90,000 square meters of new apron area will be built.
Terminal 1: Terminal 1 – mainly serving the growing low-cost traffic – will be expanded. The existing historical building is intended to be used for departing traffic only, while a new arrivals hall next to it will serve the incoming traffic and thus increase the terminal’s capacity.
Airport City Project: Budapest Airport plans to build a self-contained Airport City, a business park within the territory of the airport, in front of Terminal 2. A 4-star hotel with 250 rooms and conference facilities will also serve the public.
New Air Cargo City: New air cargo facilities will be built next to Terminal 2. They are meant to serve the airport as well as Budapest’s cargo businesses.
New car park: In front of Terminal 2, a new multi-storey car park will be erected. This will have a dramatic increase in the number of parking spaces with about 1600 new spots.
In addition, the airport will build a maintenance hangar as well as a modern engine test run stand.
On March 30, 2008, all Hungarian airports joined the Schengen Agreement. All Schengen flights will be in Terminal 2A, while non-Schengen will be in 2B. Terminal 1's low cost carriers will be separated by a glass wall into Schengen and non-Schengen Traffic.
An open-air viewing platform for relatives and spotters is at Terminal 2. A fee of 200 forints (US$1) is charged for adults, and 100 Ft(US$0.5) for children.
The newly-opened Terminal 1 serves all low-cost carriers. The terminal was renovated in September 2005. The freight functions will be re-located to a newly built cargo base, whose construction has been delayed by a political scandal about public spending that led to contract cancellations.
This terminal is divided by a glass wall into Schengen and Non-Schengen Destinations.
Although connected to Terminal 2A, it is referred to as a separate terminal, opened in 1997. It serves all Non-Schengen Destinations.
There was an IED bus attack against Russian Jewish emigrants on the road leading to Ferihegy in the early 1990s. The perpetrators were members of the German Communist organisation Red Army Faction. There have been no terrorist incidents since then.
Hungarian owned Wizz Air operates shuttle buses between Budapest city centre and terminal 1.
Shuttle services also offer transport into the city from the airport.
Facilities include ATMs (except within the international transit area, where the passenger must exchange currency), bureaux de change, left luggage, first aid, duty-free shops, child care, post office, a chapel, restaurants, tourist information and hotel reservations. There are facilities for disabled passengers and wheelchairs are available from the airport help desks. A short walk down the long drive from Terminal 2 there is an open-air aircraft museum. Short- and long-term car parks are situated close to the terminal buildings.
Malév has the most flights at the airport. The largest foreign airline (in terms of passengers carried from and to Budapest) is Lufthansa, which serves Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich nonstop.