Centerline Invests in Italy with 51% Stake in Parma Airport

Kevin Rozario


June 5, 2024

mod Parmas main square gabriella clare marino unsplash

Parma's main city square.

© Gabriella Clare Marino / Unsplash

Canada’s Centerline Airport Partners has taken a 51% controlling stake in Parma Giuseppe Verdi International Airport (PMF) in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy, about 130km southeast of Milan. The gateway transported just under 117,000 passengers in 2022.

Vancouver-based Centerline—which develops and manages airports—said in a statement that its strategic investment in PMF would be “in line with the airport's approved master plan and stakeholder considerations.”

The Canadian company is led by industry veterans Andrew O’Brian and Carlos Criado. They have a proven track record of managing public-private partnership contracts and have participated in complex projects including JFK Airport’s NTO, Aena’s airports in Spain, Mexico’s Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP), and the greenfield Quito International Airport (UIO) which was the first in the Americas to get 5-star recognition from Skytrax in 2019.

At PMF, plans are in place to improve operations and services to meet and exceed international standards with Allan Padilla Coleman becoming interim CEO after almost 12 years at UIO as Airport Operations Director. O’Brian, President and CEO of Centerline Airport Partners, commented: “Our international experience and commitment to excellence will bring significant benefits to the city and its people.”

The main benefit for residents of Parma, Italy’s 17th biggest city, is likely to be an improved customer experience helped by enhanced connectivity. This will be achieved by expanding the network of destinations served by the airport to open up opportunities for tourism, trade, and economic growth. Centerline will leverage its relationships with international airlines to attract new routes and increase flight frequencies to make Parma a bigger travel destination.

The company has confirmed that Guido Dalla Rosa Prati will continue as Chairman of So.Ge.AP, the airport operator. He said: “Giuseppe Verdi Airport will play a crucial role in our region’s development by addressing a service gap amidst growing traffic. Starting from the next winter season, Parma will be connected to several highly interesting destinations.”

He added that there would be better services for both passengers and general aviation while avoiding competition with other airports that are focused on passenger volume “which often leads to saturated and inaccessible infrastructures.”

mod biggest Italian cities 2024

Parma is Italy's 17th biggest city.

© Statista

Close Local Collaboration

In line with the master plan, Centerline will invest in critical infrastructure upgrades including facilities modernization, expanding capacity, and implementing advanced safety protocols. The company will work closely with stakeholders such as local authorities, businesses, and the community to achieve its aims.

Collaboration with ENAC (the Italian Civil Aviation Authority) and UPI will ensure that regulatory requirements are met and that operations fully comply with national and international standards. Centerline said that the partnership with UPI, which will continue as a minority shareholder, is crucial, while technical partner daa International will support PMF’s development to achieve a high standard of operational efficiency.

Centerline is also a partner with Universal Weather and Aviation, which has experience in managing business aviation. UWA’s involvement will enhance the airport's capabilities in catering to general aviation needs. “We look forward to working closely with ENAC, UPI, daa International, Universal Weather and Aviation, and all stakeholders to make Parma Airport a leading hub in the region,” said O’Brian.

For the PMF transaction, Centerline’s Chief Investment Officer, Erik Deiden, led the investment deal restructuring. The company was advised by Giulio Leucci, an infrastructure acquisition expert, and by Hermes Infra Holdings. Leucci will continue to support Centerline and So.Ge.AP as a strategic advisor to the board.