Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport wants to become a cargo gateway for China in Europe, according to a statement published here on Thursday.

The airport published the statement following a logistics and air cargo forum held in Budapest on Wednesday in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

“New opportunities and further expansion of Hungarian-Chinese logistics cooperation were on the agenda of the forum,” said the statement.

The statement quoted Szilard Bolla, consul general of Hungary in Shanghai, as saying: “I believe there is a strong potential for Budapest to become a regional logistics hub for Chinese enterprises. Today’s forum provided a great opportunity to show this potential to important Chinese industry players.”

The meeting between the high-level, Shanghai-based Chinese logistics and investment delegation and Hungarian experts was co-organised by the Hungarian Investment Promotion Agency (HIPA), the Consulate General of Hungary in Shanghai, and Budapest Airport.

Budapest Airport underlined that the timing of the cargo forum couldn’t have been better, as it took place only a week after the start of the ticket sale for the first direct Shanghai-Budapest flight by Shanghai Airlines.

“This is not only about passenger traffic but also about logistics: the most modern Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft offers about 15 tons of so-called ‘belly cargo’ capacity in both directions for all kinds of goods travelling between China and Hungary,” said the airport statement.

According to Bolla, 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Hungary and China, and the launch this year of direct flights between Budapest and Shanghai will provide further impetus for strengthening relations in all fields, especially tourism and logistics.

“I see a great business demand for the cargo capacity of this newly established flight,” Bolla noted.

Rene Droese, Director for Property and Cargo at Budapest Airport, said: “We see more and more interest among Hungary’s export-oriented industries – such as automotive, pharmaceutical and electronics – in the development of air cargo services in Hungary, and it is our mission to support this drive with further developments. We strongly believe in our great potential for more air cargo capacities between Budapest, Shanghai and other Chinese logistics gateways.”

Latest figures show that the volume of air cargo handled at Budapest Airport increased by 14.9 percent in 2018, exceeding the 13.5 percent growth rate of passenger traffic during the same period.