UAE-based Etihad Airways signed an agreement to establish a new cargo transit center at Parma Airport aimed at increasing the centrally located Italian airport’s cargo handling and transfer operations. Etihad said it expects the investment will translate into additional outbound cargo shipments beginning this summer from its main Italian cargo hub in Milan.
Parma is seen as a suitable location for a cargo transfer hub because of its close proximity to Italy’s high-value export industries. A large proportion of such manufactures require time-sensitive and secure air transport, the carrier said.
Guido Dalla Rosa Prati, chairman of Parma’s Giuseppe Verdi Airport, said, “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.”
With the new agreement, Etihad Airways’ gravitation towards Italy continues to intensify. Etihad Airways already has a major equity stake in Italian-carrier Alitalia, and the combined operations of both airlines offer 38 weekly flights between Italy and the United Arab Emirates. Bellyspace is further complemented with six additional dedicated freighter flights out of Milan, with four-times-weekly service to Abu Dhabi, and a twice-weekly service to Bogotá, recently launched on a newly acquired Etihad 777F. Altogether, weekly capacity is estimated at about 800 tonnes.
David Kerr, vice president of Etihad Cargo, reaffirmed that increased freighter operations out of Milan and the new transfer hub in Parma give the airline a “chance to strengthen our cargo services from Europe.”