Officials at Milan, Italy-based FBO operator SEA Prime are claiming a tripling of movements since July at Malpensa Prime, the company’s facility at Milan’s main international airport, due to the three-month closure for refurbishment of the runway at Linate Airport.
In 2018, SEA Prime saw around 22,000 movements at Linate Prime and 5,000 at Malpensa Prime, CEO Chiara Dorigotti, told AIN at the MEBAA Show Morocco for business aviation in Marrakech. Although Malpensa houses the bigger facility, Linate is more convenient for VIP travelers to the city of Milan.
“In the two months since we opened at Malpensa, we are up 200 percent on last year, due to the closure of Linate and key events like the Italian Grand Prix and Milan Fashion Week, which took place at the beginning of September,” she said. “[On September 23], Milan also hosted the Fédération Internationale de Football Association [FIFA] Awards.”
Milan handles around 40 percent of the movements in the Italian market and is also the world’s 15th most visited city for international tourists. International travelers from the Persian Gulf region and Asia can charter business jets from Malpensa for onward travel throughout Europe or skiing trips. “Lake Como, which is very close to Malpensa Prime, has been very popular lately, especially for American tourists,” she said.
“This year, we have [had on average] around 45 business jets [parking] overnight every night in Linate and Malpensa. We want to enlarge the scope of services offered to visiting aircraft, so that Milan becomes a destination, not only because there are nice things to do and important attractions, but also because you have service dedicated to business aviation here.”
Linate Airport, which is seven miles (11 kilometers) east of Downtown Milan, closed on July 27 for the refurbishment and will reopen on October 27. “This allowed us to present the new facility at Malpensa Prime to all our customers coming to Milan because of course all aircraft have to go to Malpensa during the closure of Linate,” she said. “We opened the new terminal on July 15, so we were just in time for the closure of Linate.
“Our customers are quite happy to see the new terminal, the new service, and the capability of Malpensa Airport, which is an intercontinental airport with two runways, operating on a 24/7 basis.”
At Malpensa Prime, located 30 miles from the city center, SEA Prime has a 5,000-square-meter (54,000-square-foot) hangar, a 1,400-sq-m terminal on one level with five lounges, a common area, dedicated security, and a dedicated apron of 70,000 sq m.
“All of the ingredients are there,” she said. “Our customers didn't face much disruption because they had high-level service in Malpensa Prime. And on top of that, because our apron at Linate is not affected by the refurbishment, we have kept helicopters operating there. Some customers can shuttle, if they have to reach downtown. In fact, during the Monza Grand Prix [at the beginning of September], we kept the helicopter shuttle going from Linate to the [racetrack].”
The new Malpensa service for business and general aviation passengers means that they no longer have to go through the cumbersome process of Terminal 2 immigration at Malpensa Airport. “We have seen clients…thinking of basing their aircraft at Malpensa, and that in itself generates traffic,” she said.
“Linate Prime is also a very good business. We recently saw the acquisition of the largest operator based there, [management provider] Sirio, by Directional Aviation. They bought the majority of Sirio's capital and they are already bringing more aircraft to Milan, basing aircraft, and also developing the maintenance business.”
Dorigotti said SEA Prime offered natural attractions for operators who based fleets in Milan, allowing them to increase activity. “This is developing the traffic in Milan, which is…consistent with our strategy of building new hangars at Linate, which has 10 hangars dedicated to business aviation,” she said.
“We already have a project to build a new hangar to be delivered at Linate in 2021. We have a longer-term project to build additional hangars. We may also develop a hangar for aircraft refurbishment. When the runway reopens, Milan will have two different business gateways.”