Best of Budapest
Best of Budapest ….Hungary’s only hub airport just had a retail revamp that’s totally transformed it.
There is a lot going on at Budapest Airport! , a major new addition to the gateway was opened to passengers in the form of the expansive and inviting SkyCourt, which links the A and B sections of Terminal 2 in the middle, and which is where a host of new retail facilities are located.
Designed by prize-winning architect Zoltán Tima, the €88 million SkyCourt increases the capacity of the Terminal 2, from just under 5 million to 8.5 million passengers per year. The building, which hosts all full-service international airlines, marks a psychological turning point for the airport in some ways; it has suffered to some degree from the financial difficulties its main carrier Malév Hungarian Airlines has had in the recent past which led to the carrier being re-nationalised in 2010 as a result.
To mark the new start, Budapest Airport, formerly know as Ferihegy, has also been renamed as Ferenc Liszt International after the country’s best known composer. Appropriately, 2011 is also the year the Hungarian people celebrated the 200th anniversary of Liszt’s birth.
In the new building, prepare to make the most of its 39 catering and retail outlets. Upstairs is essentially a large food court with views to the planes and aprons where you have a vast choice of dining options at all price levels. But it is downstairs where the retail therapy can really begin!
The largest of the stores is a vast duty free emporium from German airport retailer Heinemann. At 1,400 square metres, this walk-through duty free shop dominates the airside area • and is also unavoidable. From whichever side you enter the building after security, you have to go through the shop • which is no bad thing given that it had wide aisles so there is no claustrophobic feel, a vast array of product categories including a huge back wall that is dedicated to fashion and accessories brands including a new Victoria’s Secret boutique to its existing Burberry, Hugo Boss, Longchamp, Mont Blanc and Ralph Lauren shops and a large section featuring just Hungarian products.
Among the fashion, jewellery and sunglasses names, take your pick from Swarovski, Oilily, Guess, Ray-Ban, Kipling and Aigner • all medium to high-end brands that have been chosen in line with the passenger profile at the terminal.
In the ‘regional’ area, designed by the Budapest-based Geon architects, the theme of water • a nod to Budapest’s renown as the largest spa town in Europe with 130 springs and 21 public spas and baths • has been integrated into the shop, but in contemporary way. Large baubles like giant water droplets adorn the space which is packed with Hungarian specialties including local wines, the country’s famed Tokaji (not unlike a dessert wine), Zwack Unicum, the herbal digestif liqueur, or Rex Ciborum goose liver. Regional products are very popular, which is why Heinemann is expecting as much as 25% of its sales to come from this section.The biggest area is beauty where just about every international brand you care to name can be found. Houses which dominate through large back wall presences include Dior, Chanel, YSL and Lancôme. There are also island displays for men’s skincare and -30% special offers in case you are looking for that bargain first and brand second.
Also look for the various promotional stages in the shop where special deals or limited edition products will be available for purchase • and there are almost always some prizes for taking part in competitions or events.
Outside the main store you can also find more fashion brands in their own store settings. They include Hugo Boss and Polo Ralph Lauren on one side, and Burberry, Montblanc and Longchamp on the other.
There are stores in Terminal 2A and 2B as well but, with plans for revamping both of these buildings by 2012, we will review the new retail facilities once they are completed. In Terminal 1, meanwhile, a more dated retail offer is present but one which is still popular as this terminal serves all the low cost airlines at the airport. Highlights here include Szamos, famous for its marzipan; Moa, which sells trendy designer bags, shoes belts and jewellery; and Hungaricum where you can take a little bit of Hungary back home with you! (Be advised that terminals 1 and 2 are more than 5km away from one another; in effect two different locations.)
- On March 16, 2011 the name of Budapest Ferihegy International Airport was changed to Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport.
- Airlines: Close to 40, of which the biggest (by number of routes) are Malév Hungarian Airlines, Wizz Air, Travel Service (charter), Easyjet
- Selected new routes in 2011: Qatar Airways to Doha, Malév to Barcelona, American Airlines to New York JFK, Aitr Baltic to Riga