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What rules govern the ownership of airports (both public and private)?

Ownership of airports is principally regulated by:

  • the Navigation Code (Royal Decree 327/1942), as amended by Legislative Decree 96/2005 regarding the aeronautical section; and
  • the Civil Code. 

State-owned airports are part of the state civil aeronautical property and are thus regulated by different rules from those concerning private property (ie, the infrastructure and assets are inalienable and cannot be the subject of rights in favour of third parties).

Pursuant to Article 692 of the Navigation Code, the state civil aeronautical property comprises airports belonging to the state and any buildings or plant belonging to the state that are instrumental to the air navigation service. Military airports are part of the state military aeronautical property.

The government assigns state-owned airports and related assets to the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), which subsequently assigns them in concession, following a public procurement procedure, to an airport operator.

Ownership of private airports is regulated by the rules on private property provided in Article 832 and following of the Civil Code. However, under Article 694 of the Navigation Code, the realisation and expansion of private airports must be authorised by ENAC.


What is the authorisation procedure for the operation of airports?

The authorisation procedure for the operation of airports is regulated by Article 704 of the Navigation Code, together with the relevant ministerial decree.

A concession for airport management is adopted at the end of a public procurement procedure held in accordance with the EU Utilities Directive (2014/25/EU) and the Public Procurement Code (Legislative Decree 50/2016).

The grant of a concession is subject to the signing of a contract between the airport operator and ENAC, in compliance with the directives issued by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.

Within six months before the end of the first financial year following grant of the concession, ENAC and the airport operator must also sign a programme contract incorporating the airport regulations issued by the Italian Inter-ministerial Economic Committee regarding investments, fees and quality, as well as those provided by Law 248/2005, regarding fiscal matters.

What ongoing operating requirements apply (including obligations relating to safety, security and facilities maintenance)?

In terms of general obligations, under Article 705 of the Navigation Code the airport operator must:

  • ensure compliance with the obligations assumed with the concession contract and the programme contract;
  • organise airport activities in order to guarantee the efficient and optimal use of resources for the provision of activities and services of adequate quality;
  • ensure the presence of the necessary ground handling services;
  • assign aircraft parking areas and ensure the orderly movement of other vehicles and personnel on the aprons;
  • verify compliance with airport regulations by private operators providing airport services;
  • propose to ENAC the penalties envisaged for non-observance of the airport’s conditions of use;
  • draw up a service charter in compliance with the directives issued by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and ENAC, and ensure compliance with the quality levels indicated in it; and
  • ensure security checks on passengers, baggage and goods in accordance with the provisions in force, as well as the management of lost property.

As for specific obligations, all airport operators must adopt, maintain and implement an airport security programme, under the supervision of ENAC. This programme must describe the methods and procedures that the airport operator must follow in order to comply with the requirements of:

  • EU Regulation 300/2008, on common rules in the field of civil aviation security;
  • EU Regulation 185/2010, laying down detailed measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security; and
  • the National Civil Aviation Security Programme.

Regarding airport safety, the ENAC Regulation for the Construction and Operation of Airports requires the adoption of a safety management system by the airport operator. Its purpose is to:

  • ensure that airport operations are carried out in accordance with pre-established safety conditions; and
  • assess the effectiveness of the system in order to correct any deviations.

Airport maintenance obligations and other specific obligations (eg, security and safety obligations) are set by ENAC within the programme contract with the airport operator. In particular, the programme contract imposes a four-year plan for identifying the required interventions for the modernisation, expansion and development of airport infrastructure and facilities.

Airport charges

What airport charges apply and how are they regulated?

Law Decree 1/2012, implementing EU Directive 2009/12/EC, regulates airport charges. The law basically requires the establishment of a supervisory authority in charge of adopting tariff models based on annual registered passenger traffic, in order to ensure that charges applied to airport users comply with the principles of:

  • correlation to costs;
  • transparency;
  • reasonableness;
  • non-discrimination; and
  • consultation of airport users.

Resolution 92/2017 of the Transport Authority provides for three different tariff models divided in accordance with annual passenger traffic – namely:

  • above five million;
  • between three and five million; and
  • below three million.

The airport manager will determine the applicable charges on the basis of these tariff models.


What regulations govern access to airports?

Access to airports is regulated by:

  • Articles 687, 718, 1174 and 1235 of the Navigation Code;
  • the National Civil Aviation Security Programme, adopted, implemented and updated by ENAC pursuant to Articles 10 and 11 of EU Regulation 300/2008; and
  • specific ordinances and resolutions issued by ENAC.

Slot allocation

What regime governs the allocation of airport slots (including slot transfer, revocation and disputes)?

EU Regulation 793/2004 provides the common rules for the allocation of slots at EU airports.

Legislative Decree 172/2007 provides for a regime of penalties relating to slot allocation.

Ground handling

How are ground handling services regulated?

Ground handling services are regulated by Legislative Decree 18/99, which implement EU Directive 96/97/EC.

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