The president of Gesap talks about the important investments that the company is making to guarantee an increasingly bright future for Palermo airport

Only a few months have passed since his inauguration as President of Gesap, the management company of the “Falcone Borsellino” International Airport in Palermo, but Salvatore Burrafato can already draw up an initial balance, thanks to the incredible performances of 2023 compared to the number of passengers transiting from the airport, and can chart the course for the future of the Palermo airport. A future that will see important investments, both from an infrastructural point of view and from that of the services offered. The declared goal is to make the Falcone Borsellino, thanks also to its strategic position, the Mediterranean airport hub par excellence. Here is the interview released exclusively for Amazing Sicily.

What are the results you have achieved since becoming president of Gesap that you are most proud of?

First of all, I am proud of the climate of collaboration that, at all levels, distinguishes Gesap’s operations. We are a team in the best sense of the word. Thanks to this feeling, and here we come to the concrete data, it was possible to achieve incredible performance with respect to the number of passengers. In the first ten months of 2023, we have already exceeded 7 million passengers, the total of what was achieved in the whole of 2022. We hope to exceed the 8 million threshold in December 2023 thanks to a growth of 13% compared to 2022. These data on passengers allow us to focus on a very important economic data: the value of production has grown more than its cost, therefore added value has been created, with operating profit almost doubling, from 2 million to 3.9 million euros in the first half of 2023.

What, on the other hand, is the aspect of the airport that you would like to improve?

We still have a lot of work to do on the infrastructure front. But there are also “symbolic” aspects to improve, especially for the services offered. And for this reason, we recently launched an ambitious investment plan of 68 million which will be guaranteed almost entirely with the Company’s own funds, providing, where necessary, for the use of debt for a maximum amount of 15 million euros in 2026. But there’s more. To make clear the effort that is being made to modernize and strengthen our terminal, just browse through the development plan approved by Enac for the 2020/2023 period which is worth a total of 252 million, of which over one hundred to be spent in the five-year period 2023/2027. Interventions that are already changing the face of the terminal and that in the near future, will continue to improve its usability and accessibility.

What are the next goals and improvements in the services already planned?

We are planning essential and strategic interventions for our airport. In the area of flight infrastructure, we plan to upgrade airside infrastructure, including the implementation of 400 Hz infrastructure. As for the terminal, we are working on exciting projects. Seismic adjustments and renovations are planned, as well as the creation of new gates and new commercial areas. Our goal is to offer passengers an even better experience than the current one. Beyond the terminal, we are also investing in access, roads and parking systems. There is a lot to do: the expansion of sewerage networks and the creation of new car parks, including a multi-storey car park on the Trapani side. We are excited to continue this journey of transforming the terminal to ensure our passengers have an infrastructure that lives up to their expectations.

How do you see Palermo airport in three years?

It’s not what I see or imagine that it’s important, but what we manage to deliver to users. We also want to improve our green performance, so much so that the plan includes interventions for the production of green energy through photovoltaic fields within the airport grounds and for the adaptation of the existing purifier. Finally, from a “commercial” point of view, I believe it is a necessary objective to further strengthen the international vocation of our airport. Palermo Airport is located in a strategic position for international connections not only to overseas destinations but also to the African continent. Hence the fascinating prospect, now certain, of the direct flight Palermo – New York. Currently, in fact, Falcone e Borsellino is the only Sicilian airport that has 2 runways and an aircraft apron that allow the take-off, landing and stop of aircraft carrying out intercontinental routes. The recent expansion works of the passenger terminal as well as the presence of the railway station within the same
terminal mean that the Falcone e Borsellino can easily apply as a “real” airport hub of the Mediterranean, integrating perfectly with the cruise hub of Palermo.

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