BUDAPEST AIRPORT, Hungary – A team of 20 Aer Lingus runners raced down Budapest Airport’s Runway 13R-31L this weekend to reclaim the title of “The Fastest Airline in the World” in the air transport industry’s annual 10km charity race, beating a dozen other airline teams and snatching the title back from reigning champions SWISS.
In total 976 runners from airlines, airports and other aviation enterprises– including headline sponsor Airbus – lined up on the start line. As well as winning the most-coveted team prize, Aer Lingus also took the “double” as team member Robert Murphy crossed the line in first place with a 34-second lead, resoundingly beating all other competitors over the 10km course – four lengths of the runway – taking the prize of “Fastest Aviator” in a blazing time of 34:47 – the second time the 35-old Irishman has taken the title in his running career.
The Aer Lingus CEO, Stephen Kavanagh, himself a twice-veteran of the Budapest Airport Runway Run, personally stood on the Dublin Airport Tarmac to greet the team’s victorious homecoming: “After the disappointment of losing the world’s fastest airline title last year, it’s even more satisfying to reclaim it in such style in 2016. Congratulations to all involved from across our airline in delivering a great team performance, you’ve done Aer Lingus proud and helped a great charitable cause along the way.”
The fourth Budapest Airport Runway Run, sponsored by Airbus and Qatar Airways, takes place on a normally extremely active runway (the airport has two) and involves closing runway 13R-31L for just a few hours in order to stage the air transport industry’s annual premier charity sporting event, held in aid of the bone marrow transplant charity, Anthony Nolan, and Hungary’s Suhanj! Foundation, a charity which supports the inclusion of disabled people in sport (some of Hungary’s Paralympic team departed Budapest Airport for Rio on the same day as the race).
Teams and individual runners included serious competitive entries fielded by Qatar Airways, Pegasus Airlines, Emirates, Egyptair, Etihad, Small Planet Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, United Airlines, SkyWork Airlines, ASL Airlines, Wizz Air, Turkish Airlines and last year’s titleholders SWISS. ASL Airlines’ Lászlo Molnár was fastest Airline CEO (finishing in 46 minutes), while Ralf Schmid, the CEO of Allgäu Airport Memmingen (also known as Munich West Airport) was this year’s Fastest Airport CEO. Holding on to its title of ‘Fastest Airport’ for a second year running, Poland’s Wroclaw Airport once again challenged several energetic airports from across Europe, while headline sponsor Airbus went home triumphant as the ‘Fastest Aviation Enterprise’.
Speaking at the prize-giving on the concourse of the airport’s historic Terminal 1, Budapest Airport CEO Jost Lammers said: “It was a very hot race today with temperatures close to 35C on the runway – even the most experienced runners admitted that just finishing the race was a real athletic achievement. We are very proud of all our competitors for their part in making this a record-attended runway run – close to 1,000 runners from across the international aviation community took part helping to promote our airport and this fantastic city while allowing us to donate 100% of entrance fees to the benefiting charities. This event is firmly and truly established as a winning formula for all.”