The 177th Balaton cruise season started this Saturday, with the Balaton Shipping Company (Bahart) offering more program boats and high season services than before, the company said at its season opening press conference.
Bahart CEO Gábor Veigl highlighted that last season was a very successful one and that they would like to close at least that well this year. In the 2022 shipping season, almost 700,000 passengers travelled on the company's passenger boats, nearly 1.4 million on its ferry services, and 450,000 vehicles and more than 110,000 bicycles were transported from one side of the lake to the other. Ferry traffic so far this year has been 4% below expectations, mainly due to the weather, he added.
In response to demand, the company is launching more program boats this spring and increasing their capacity by around 20% where possible. “Some sailings will start earlier in the spring than in previous years, while in the high season, sailings on the most popular routes will be more frequent," the CEO said, outlining the main changes.
He also pointed out that the company's marina sector was successful last year and is operating at full capacity again this year, while the waterway construction sector also closed the year with record results. In 2022, Bahart achieved a turnover of HUF 4.3 billion, up 11% on the previous year, he added.
The general assembly of the company, which is 75% state-owned and 25% owned by 21 lake-front municipalities, recently decided not to take dividends, as in previous years, but to use them for the company's investments. Bahart can spend almost HUF 700 million a year on development from its own resources, plus state funds. Last year, the company spent more than HUF 5 billion on investments, including new ships and ferries, thanks to the state capital increase.