László Szíjj flies new, HUF 14 billion luxury jet to Africa and marinas in the Adriatic
László Szíjj, the owner of company Duna Aszfalt – which frequently builds state motorway projects – shares significant business interests with richest Hungarian Lőrinc Mészáros. It doesn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that the two entrepreneurial giants also shared the Austrian-registered (OE-LEM) private jet – now worth 17 billion HUF – for their travels in recent years. Until September 2022, that is, when Atlatszo found that Szíjj travelled with a Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express 6000 jet – OE-IMB, also registered in Austria – for an African business trip.
The plane’s travel history reveals that the entrepreneur’s relationship with the jet – now worth 14 billion HUF ($34 million) – may be more permanent than a one-off rental. Since it was placed in “service” for Hungary on August 3, 2022, the plane has departed from and returned to Budapest for every trip. Many of the trips from Hungary have been to Croatian port cities where László Szíjj’s luxury yachts Artemy or Lady MRD was moored.
The African tour
Duna Aszfalt’s website published entries in September that referred to a business tour in Africa, led by Szíjj. The Duna Aszfalt owner first held talks with Zambian head of state Hakainde Hichilema on September 27, before he travelled to Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo capital, where he was received by Prime Minister Sama Lukonde and Infrastructure Minister Alexis Gisaro. Hakiande Hichilema also posted about the meeting on Facebook.
The talks centered around the construction of a 184-kilometer road section and a border bridge that would link Zambia and the DRC as part of a major infrastructure investment. During the talks, the parties granted their mutual backing for the plan.
The project will be managed and supervised by Duna Aszfalt and its part-owned consortium. The Hungarian company is also a financial investor in the project. According to reports from the Congolese media, the main contractor of the project is close to being decided.
László Szíjj’s travels
When Atlatszo examined the database that reveals travel route histories, it emerged that Szíjj did not use his ‘regular’ jet for the African tour. The new jet – the OE-IMB, Austrian-registered Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global 6000 – emerged after Atlatszo inspected the Liszt Ferenc International Airport’s flight tracker on September 26, the day before Szijj’s African talks.
The jet’s subsequent path was easy to follow. It stood in the Budapest airport for a long time, before it took off towards Lusaka, Zambia – the first meeting’s location. The trip from Zambia to the DRC’s Kinshasa was not tracked, but the aircraft re-emerged on the radar on September 29, when it departed from Kinshasa – the location of the second meeting – and left the African continent at around 21:00pm. It landed in Budapest just before 23:00pm.
A special relationship
In Austria – unlike in Hungary – ownership data in the aircraft register is not public. But the aircraft’s operating company, AVCON JET GmbH, has a website that reveals that the company offers its customers numerous services, including “aircraft management”.
What does the service entail? According to the site’s description, the company helps owners operate and maintain their aircraft more cost-effectively by offering the owner’s aircraft for hire to others, as part of its own fleet.
The site lists the private jets available for hire in its fleet – but the OE-IMB registered aircraft was not included.
This means that Szíjj could not have rented the plane. The implication? Szíjj – or one of this companies – most likely owns this jet, which was probably bought or leased through the AVCON JET GmbH company. An examination the jet’s route history shows that the aircraft flies infrequently and irregularly in comparison to hired-out private jets.
Atlatszo addressed questions about the Africa trip and the new private jet to Duna Aszfalt. We wanted to know if the private jet with registration number OE-IMB is owned by László Szíjj or one of his companies, and if not, which company rents or leases it. We also wanted to know whether the aircraft is for private use only or if it is also leased to others. Duna Aszfalt’s press spokesperson provided the following response:
“As we have already reported in the construction trade magazine Magyar Építők (1), (2) we have spent the last decade organising the implementation of one of the most significant infrastructure developments in Africa, which reached a major milestone at the end of September 2022. László Szijjj, like anyone else, relies on the services of various travel operators to arrange his travels. In this case, the owner of Duna Aszfalt financed the travel costs of the entire delegation with his private assets.”
That Szíjj financed the trip with his private assets suggests that Duna Aszfalt does not own or rent the jet, nor is it the lessee of the aircraft. Instead, it appears that Szíjj owns or is the exclusive tenant of the aircraft.
Because the jet’s trips since August 2022 are all connected to Hungary, and the destinations often include Croatian ports with Szíjj’s yachts, it is not a stretch to deduce that Szíjj enjoys a more permanent connection with the jet than occasional renting.
The Croatian seaside
The evidence does not end there. From August 3, the jet exclusively departed from Budapest, and always returned to the Hungarian capital as well. In addition to the Africa trip, many popular destinations are directly connected to Szíjj and his interests.
The jet frequently flies to the Croatian seaside – its first trip on August 3 was to Zadar, where Szíjj’s luxury yacht Artemy was docked at the time. The jet only spent minutes at the Croatian airport before returning to Budapest. The yacht moved from north to Rovinj, where it docked from September 8 to 10. The jet arrived in Pula – near Rovinj – that day and left for Budapest quickly after.
And the Artemy is not Szíjj’s only yacht that’s connected to the jet. His other luxury yacht, Lady MRD, also intersected several times with the plane’s whereabouts over the summer. In August, for example, the boat was anchored on the island of Brac, where the private jet landed on the 12th,. On August 16, the plane came to the island again and returned to Budapest, before it flew on to Vienna.
The same month, the jet travelled from Vienna to Zadar, where Lady MRD was moored, before it returned to Budapest. Trips to Zadar were repeated two more times. During the jet’s last Adriatic flight, both of Szijj’s boats were in Zadar.
Details about the jet and its operating company
The Bombardier Global 6000 private jet, registered as OE-IMB, has similar parameters to its previously famous OE-LEM version. The 2018-built aircraft can fly up to 11,112 kilometres on a single refuelling with a maximum speed of 934 km/h and can reach an altitude of 15,545 metres.
The private jet is valued at $34 million, or just over 14 billion HUF at current exchange rates, according to an internet site that compares used aircraft prices by year.
While the previously used aircraft, registered OE-LEM, is operated by the Austrian company International Jet Management GmbH, the OE-IMB registered jet is operated by the Austrian AVCON JET GmbH.
Válasz Online wrote about the relationship between the two companies and their ownership after their connection to aircrafts and yachts being used by the Szijjj-Mészáros partnership first emerged. The article revealed that the aircraft companies were owned by a company that was part of the PKF group, an international tax consultancy firm. It was also 90 per cent owned by Andreas Staribacher – the former finance minister of the Austrian Vraniczky government.
The PKF group also owns a Maltese company, which owns the company L&L Charter Ltd. – whose luxury yachts have been popular with NER entrepreneurs, state-owned company heads, and Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. Following the introduction of EU regulation for increased transparency in off-shore companies, however, the company behind these vessels was later revealed to be majority-owned by László Szíjj. In reality, the company previously listed as the owner only held a single share.
László Szíjj is the beneficial owner of the Malta offshore company in posession of luxury yachts used by the Hungarian government elite
Over the last two years, we have written several times about the fact that the Austrian-registered luxury private jet with…
Translated by Vanda Mayer. The original, Hungarian version of this story was written by Kornél Brassai and can be found here. Cover photo by @limare.atc. Infographic by Átlátszó / Krisztián Szabó. The Investigative Dashboard supported Átlátszó to obtain the yacht tracking data.