The Malév Boeing 737-800 carrying Hungarians and citizens of other European countries trapped in Libya touched down at Budapest’s Ferihegy International Airport yesterday evening. The special flight arrived with a total of 96 passengers (including 24 Hungarians) from 10 countries.
The Malév jet was met by Minister of Foreign Affairs János Martonyi and Minister of Defence Csaba Hende. Nearly 50 journalists were at the airport to record the arrival of the flight from Tripoli. Speaking to journalists, the foreign minister mentioned his especial thanks to Sándor Pintér, interior minister, and János Hajdú, head of the Anti-Terrorism Centre (TEK). Furthermore, he expressed his gratitude to Malév Chief Operational Officer Géza Fehérváry, who was also the captain of the special charter flight, and the entire crew who flew into Tripoli. The foreign minister also mentioned the work of the staff of the embassy in Tripoli, who are remaining in Libya.
As regards the repatriation of those who arrived on the aircraft, János Martonyi congratulated everyone for the exemplary cooperation. He said he considered the fact that citizens of 10 European nations, including Romanians, Lithuanians, Poles, Czechs and the Czech ambassador, were brought out to be of particular symbolic significance. This is an excellent example that we Hungarians are capable of working together when we have to, he stressed.
Csaba Hende commented that this “brilliantly executed rescue mission” was decided on by the government at a late evening session on Saturday, when it was agreed that an aircraft of the national carrier would be despatched to Tripoli. Under no circumstances will Hungary leave one of its citizens in trouble, and if needs be we will go for everyone, even to the ends of the earth, he said. The defence minister, too, thanked everyone for their cooperation. Money was not an issue; the important thing was human life and the security of Hungarians, he emphasized.
The crew of the Malév Tripoli flight and the Malév experts who readied the flight fulfilled this unusual mission faultlessly. In addition to maintaining constant liaison with the government and TEK, flight preparations were conducted extremely swiftly, as were the necessary flight authorizations, as a consequence of which flight MA1304 was able to depart for Tripoli on Sunday morning, and where, having touched down, it was only able to make the return journey after a lengthy wait. The reason for the delay was that passengers for the Malév service were able to get into the airport only with great difficulty owing to the chaotic situation at the terminal. Thanks to the efforts of the Hungarian embassy, the Anti-Terrorism Centre, the charity organization Baptist Aid and the crew of the Malév flight, the Boeing was able to take off on the return leg to Budapest at 5.30 pm Hungarian time. It landed at Ferihegy just after 8 pm local time.
Capt. Géza Fehérváry, chief operational officer, corporate chief pilot
Capt. János Keszőcze, B737 chief pilot
Capt. Zoltán Kozma, manager Flight Supervisory Office
Miklós Werner, first officer, deputy head training
Frigyes Kontra, chief purser
Márton Tegze, chief purser
Iván Reiner, flight attendant
Zoltán Császár, flight attendant
Source: Malev.com Press Release
All images courtesy of MALÉV.