Information for ticket holders and visitors planning their trip to Budapest
As of 6 am today, Malév, Hungary's national carrier, ceased its operations after 66 years of service. Malév has been in the media a lot lately, primarily because of its dire financial situation, made worse by an EU ruling in January to repay state aid. Although Malév scaled down its operations significantly over the past years, it still accounted for approximately 40% of Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport's air traffic. Malév was also a member of the oneworld alliance. In fact 48 of the airlines' 53 destinations are also served by other oneworld partner airlines, which makes it somewhat easier for passengers holding Malév tickets to re-book or re-route their flights.
What to Do if You Have a Malév Ticket?
According to the official Malév statement (on malev.com):
"Assistance can be provided to those passengers who purchased their valid tickets before Malév cease and whose travel dates are on the suspension day or on the following three calendar days. In addition, to those who already travelled to their destination on the suspension day or before and posses valid return tickets on Malév flights on a date not later than February 29, 2012."
The following Malév telephone numbers are available for customers:
Within Hungary: (+36-40) 21 21 21
From abroad: (+36-1) 802-1111
For claims and refund options see Malév's updated 'Passenger Notice' here.
According to oneworld the following applies to passengers booked prior to February 3rd, 2012 on code-share flights: tickets with the BA (British Airways), AY (Finnair), JL (Japan Airlines) or AB (airberlin) codes, scheduled to be operated by Malév are being offered alternative travel arrangements, or refunds in line with their regular fare rules.
Passengers booked before February 3rd, 2012 to fly on Malév code-share flights (tickets issued with MA code) operated by British Airways, Finnair or airberlin to Budapest are being offered assistance for travel on these airlines, subject to availability.
British Airways and airberlin (for its new Berlin-Budapest flights) are also offering stranded Malév passengers special repatriation fares. For details, see ba.com, finnair.com and airberlin.com
Malév operated joint flights with Air France-KLM between Budapest and Paris. Passengers holding valid Malév tickets for these flights are being offered assistance by the carrier. For details please contact Air France-KLM directly.
Within a few hours of Malév's announcement to cease its operations, several European airlines operating to Budapest announced their plans to grab a piece of the Malév pie left behind.
Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair confirmed that it will base 4 brand new Boeing 737-800 aircrafts at Budapest Airport commencing in just two weeks time on February 17. It will open 31 new routes, with super low fares (EUR 9.99 / HUF 2,999), replacing most of the traffic and routes left behind by Malév. More info on Ryanair's expansion plan in Hungary is available here.
Wizz Air, the largest low cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, offers rescue fares to passengers with valid Malév e-tickets for travel between February 3rd and March 24th, 2012. Call Wizz Air's call center at (+36-1) 358-6565 to take advantage of the HUF 9,900 all inclusive, one way fares. Seats are subject to availability and flights must be rebooked by 6pm February 13th, 2012. Wizz Air also announced an expansion of its operations in Budapest. As of March 2012, the airline will add two Airbus A320 aircrafts to its Budapest base, a 66% increase in overall capacity. More info is available here.
easyJet, UK’s largest low-cost airline, offers a special EUR 60 rescue fare to stranded Malév passengers. This offer is available to any Malév passenger due to return to Budapest until midnight February 9, 2012. To claim the exclusive EUR 60 rescue package, passengers should call easyJet customer services. easyJet operates the following routes previously operated by Malev: London – Budapest, Paris – Budapest, Berlin – Budapest. More info is available here.
Other European carriers, like Lufthansa, LOT, CSA, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines are also considering increasing their capacity and frequency to serve Budapest.