Etihad Airways and Parma Airport have signed an agreement to develop cargo traffic at the airport of the central Italian city.
The exclusive agreement initially includes the establishment of a cargo transit centre at Parma Airport to receive cargo for forwarding to Milan Malpensa Airport for onward transport. The project will be developed in conjunction with Etihad Cargo and partner airlines, providing an efficient solution to companies in the region for the rapid delivery of their products to global markets.
Etihad Airways with its equity partner, Alitalia, currently offers bellyhold capacity on 38 weekly flights between Italy and the UAE. In addition there are six weekly freighter services from Milan, including a twice weekly service to Bogota and the four times a week service to Abu Dhabi, which offer a combined capacity of 800 tonnes.
David Kerr, Vice President of Etihad Cargo, said, "This agreement with Parma Airport is a further demonstration of our confidence in Italy, one of the largest cargo markets in Europe. We have already strengthened our freighter capacity out of Milan in the last few weeks, having placed a new 777 freighter on the Milan-Bogota sector, so the opportunity to use Parma gives us a further chance to strengthen our cargo services from Europe."
Parma is at the centre of one of the largest exporting regions in Italy for high value goods. These freight items require fast and secure transport, which are all factors that determine the demand for air freight services.
Guido Dalla Rosa Prati, Chairman of Parma Airport, said: "With the co-operation of Etihad Airways, the strategic development plan for the airport is already coming to life. We are really honoured to have gained the interest of Etihad Airways, a key player in the world of aviation, and I am proud of the agreement which will generate new business opportunities for Parma and neighbouring territories."
Work has already begun to adapt the airport infrastructure for the new service to be operational from July 2016. Cargo and logistics will play a central role in the ongoing development plan for Giuseppe Verdi Airport.
Alberto Figna, Chairman of the Parma Industrialist’s Union (UPI), one of the key shareholders in the airport, said: "The agreement with an international partner of the calibre of Etihad Airways is confirmation of the potential of this airport and an important indication of the commitment of the Parma business community to ensuring the continuity and progress of a vital piece of infrastructure that will benefit the local economy. It is expected that the new transit centre will also have a positive direct and indirect impact on employment in the local area."
Etihad Cargo is a division of Etihad Airways with a dedicated fleet of 11 freighters and an additional freighter to be added during 2016. At the end of February, the team welcomed a new Boeing 777 to its fleet and the aircraft has recently started operations on the Milan- Bogot? route providing improved services between Europe and South America.
Over the previous year, Etihad Cargo grew its services global reach by offering bellyhold capacity on Etihad Airways’ six new passenger destinations to destinations including Edinburgh and Madrid, bringing to over 100 the total number of passenger destinations on which cargo services are currently provided. Etihad Cargo also expanded its freighter services to several new markets including Dakar, Nouakchott and Douala, bringing the number of freighter-only destinations operated to 20.