China’s Hainan Airlines Group (HNA) is considering investing in financially troubled Hungarian airline Malév, with negotiations already ongoing, airline industry trade magazine Air Transport World says it has learned from an insider in China.
The magazine said a successful conclusion would make HNA the first Chinese carrier to invest in a European airline. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Chen Feng, president of the Hainan Group and one of China’s richest businessmen, on his trip to China last November and they discussed the possibility of Chinese involvement in the airline industry in Hungary. Further reports about negotiations with Chinese businessmen about the sale of Malév surfaced in June. HNA signed a strategic agreement with the construction company of leading Hungarian developer Sándor Demján in June about “grand developments in logistics, airport expansion” and other areas.
Want part of airport too
Right-leaning daily Magyar Hírlap notes that the Chinese are interested in Malév only if they can acquire at least part of Liszt Ferenc Airport, because their main path of development is cargo. The paper said its sources suggested that the buyers would be willing to build a direct high-speed rail line to both terminals.
Air Transport World said HNA had already sent a group to Hungary for negotiations. “HNA is in talks with Malév now mainly owing to the promotion [of cooperation between the carriers] by the Hungarian government and the Chinese government,” the insider said. It was reported that it may take “at least four to five months” to clear all hurdles to complete a deal.

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