Curse of the undead: Malév

We’ve already talked about the fact that Hungary’s pride, namely Malév, went bankrupt about a week ago and that all of Hungary’s governments since 1989 contributed to this. Personally though I hoped that within a week or two the Orbán government will act quickly enough to move all of the former company’s assets to a new company (which would preferably use the same old brand name), effectively ending the chaos that ensued since the bankruptcy of Malév. But no, unfortunately the Hungarian giant remains to be dead. Actually, not dead, but rather undead (since it’s been proclaimed a company of strategical importance, hence de jure it can never go bankrupt, remember?). And aside from the fact that it still exists (despite being defunct) it has brought around a curse (just like any “regular” undead would): the imminent obligation for the state to pay about HUF 1000 billion ($4.5 billion/£3 billion) to the creditors of Budapest Airport. The reason? An alleged secret clause (presumably in small print) in the privatization contract of the airport’s operator company (Budapest Airport), pertaining to the projected traffic loss in case Malév goes bankrupt. It’s also likely that because of the nature of the contract the airport itself would be nationalized as well.

We’ve also learned about the fact that Péter Oszkó, former finance minister of the Bajnai government, has been a board member at Wizz Air since last April. This means that he was already a board member when Wizz Air has filed a complaint about the state subsidies paid to Malév. Oszkó has later went on record to say that he was arguing in support of Malév even as a board member of Wizz Air and stated that the actions against Malév were never discussed in any board meetings. This “mishap” of his however doesn’t affect the truthfulness of his earlier statement, in which he stated that Malév could have been restarted immediately after its bankruptcy and that he’s already drawn up a rough plan for such “managed bankruptcy” in 2010 as minister of finance. He also said that when the Orbán government came to power, he handed all the documentation for these plans to them. “The plans needed an additional 3 months’ worth of prep work” – he said. Unfortunately nobody has heard of these plans ever since, but since nobody from Fidesz seemed to deny the existence of such plan, chances are that the plans did (and still do) exist. However since it hasn’t been turned into a reality, the Orbán government might’ve blown its greatest opportunity altogether.

Given the fact that the privatization (and subsequent nationalization) contracts signed during the Gyurcsány-Bajnai era are fishy to say the least, and the fact that the Orbán government obviously didn’t feel the need to come up with a wise plan for the bankruptcy of Malév, it’s obvious that nothing has changed as far as Malév’s status quo is concerned: a company wanted by nobody, mismanaged by everybody, continues its unholy fate with about to meet a nasty end.

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