EIB halts Hungarian govt’s Budapest Airport plans, due to dearth of impact studiesReading Time: 2 minutes
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has suspended a EUR 200 million credit line towards the expansion of Hungary’s Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport over a failure to conduct any environmental impact assessments.
The airport’s plan to extend the facility and increase passenger traffic by 50% over eight years violated EIB policy and EU environmental law, according to public finance monitor Bank Watch. The organisation helped NGOs to file complaints that the airport operator had not conducted impact studies on air and noise pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
An EIB investigation confirmed the suspicions of Hungary’s National Society of Conservationists-Friends of the Earth Hungary and the Association for Civilized Air Transport. The EIB also found that no public consultations regarding the expansion had taken place, and even admitted its own lack of due diligence performance regarding the project. Having originally been granted in December 2018, the EIB loan will be suspended until Hungarian authorities decide whether a full environmental impact assessment is required for the airport expansion project.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed a desire to buy the airport in October, saying: “it is only right if our sole major international airport is in Hungarian ownership (and can be raised) two or three notches.” A Hungarian state-led consortium including energy firm MOL bid a reported EUR 4.44 billion for the airport in September, upping a bid of EUR 4 billion earlier in the year. Last month Orban announced that the government would put the plan on hold until after Hungary’s parliamentary elections, which will be held in April.
COVID-19 has put all airports in a difficult position. Once one of Europe’s fastest-growing airports, Budapest Liszt Ferenc was valued at EUR 3 billion before the pandemic. However 2020 brought 90% fewer passengers and a EUR 100 million loss, setting the stage for the Hungarian government’s deal.
Source: Balkan Green Energy News