Hungary’s flagship airline is no more: after 66 years of operations, Malév unceremoniously stopped flying after two of its airplanes were grounded in Tel Aviv by a demand for advance payment for fuel and services.
Though the news is not unexpected (Malév has been in deep trouble ever since it was ordered to repay several hundred million dollars worth of state subsidies that were deemed illegal by the European Union), I am still saddened. My first ever professional contract in 1979 (yes, I was still in high school) was to write code to simulate the take-off of Malév-owned TU-134 aircraft at Budapest’s Ferihegy airport under various adverse conditions, calculating the maximum safe take-off weight. I also have other memories, such as nearly missing a Malév flight in Bucharest in 1983, as in Ceausescu’s capital by that time, fuel was scarce, public transport was unreliable, and taxicabs fueled by natural gas were not accepting passengers to the airport due to the chronic fuel shortage and rationing. (I hitchhiked and caught my flight with only seconds to spare.) Ferihegy Airport without Malév is just not the same.