The sensation of the April of 1923 was the appearance of the Junkers hydroplanes in the front of Hotel Gellért on river Danube. The aluminium planes with closed passenger cabs could carry five passengers. According to the contemporary news reports the quay in the front of the polytechnic was full of spectators, a few of them even tried out the hydroplanes.
Count Endre Jankovich- Bésán a legitimist Member of Parliament applied and received permission for five years to operate Budapest-Zagreb, Budapest-Prague, Budapest-Bucharest airlines.
In the permission the minister of trading granted free airport usage, hangars, fields for buildings and two year state grant for the applier.
All of these were granted in exchange for the following obligations, the flights would be operated on 280 days in a year, the airpost service must have been undertaken under the condition of payback of the operational cost, the fares could not be higher than the double of the prize of the first class express railway tickets. The crew – except some special cases – must have been Hungarian citizens as the two thirds of its executive officers too.
With the permission in hand the count conducted negotiations with the company of professor Junkers, which first build airplanes from aluminium. They founded the Aeroexpress Corporation. Among the pilots we can find György Endresz, who later would fly across the ocean, and Antal Bánhidi mechanic.
For the four Junkers F-13s the Hungarian state imported additional two and submit them two the Corporation. The neighbouring states did not give the permissions, however the operation must have been commenced.
Therefore the count achieved that the Hungarian government granted flying permission for the Danube, for the Budapest-Lake Balaton line and also approved the idea of cruise flights.
With the extension of the permission it became obvious that the planes would be operated with foots as hydroplanes. The Aeroexpress built 70 meters long hydroplane port on the right side of the river Danube in the front of Hotel Gellért, and also opened an office there.
As a new sensation the silver birds cruised above the river, which aimed that the public get used to the flying. The 15-20 minutes flights were really risky, since the Corporation did not take responsibility for accidents.
On the first Sunday of May 1923 a plane crashed into the Csepel-island. This accident did not discourage the genteel public form flying and the flights to Lake Balaton and around the lake on the line of Siófok-Almádi-Füred-Keszthely-Földvár-Siófok begun on the summer of 1923.
This kind of seaplane adventure of Aeroexpress was a subsidiary solution, in 1924 they managed to commence scheduled flights in cooperation with the Austrian airlines from Budapest to Wien. Its activity incorporated the transportation of newspapers to other cities and also the dispersal of leaflets.
Despite the promising beginning the company was not able to break into the market of the international flights and it could not be maintained on joy, cruise and taxi flights. It is said that the count’s political view also contributed to the company’s fall. We do not know this exactly but it is almost certain, that they did not receive the state grant, in spite of the fact that the count did everything, even sued the treasury, to obtain the needed and promised money.
Since I have known this story, I always imagine silver hydroplanes as they take off from the water of the Danube and the Lake Balaton.
Junkers F.13 on Wikipedia