Milan Malpensa

Milan Malpensa Airport has had a turbulent history. The airport was built to serve Italy’s financial capital Milan. Although the flag career Alitalia initially invested in the airport, it pulled the plug on it in a second moment leaving the airport in quite a predicament. MXP had to build itself an all new business model. So let’s find out more about the history of Italy’s northern key hub and its history.


When was MXP Built And Its Inconvenient Location

The original airport construction dates back almost a century, with Malpensa 1.0 opening for operations in 1910. However modern Milan Malpensa International Airport, as we know it today, is much more recent than that. The airport was heavily renovated in the early ’90s in order to accomodate larger numbers of international and particularly intercontinental passengers and flights.

The modern MXP airport opened for operations in 1998, when Alitalia also started using the airport as its primary hub. Much of the airline’s fleet what transferred here from Rome Fiumicino. However this was a status quo that wouldn’t live on for too long as we’ll see in the next paragraphs.

Without hub status for Alitalia and then ITA Airways the airport become very unattractive for continental travel. Its location is the main culprit for this as MXP is located a full 50km west of Milan. In essence the airport sits a few minutes from the border with Piedmont and is almost half way between Milan and Turin. Therefore the airport with the exception of low cost carriers is primarily now used for long range services arriving into Milan.

From Alitalia Hub to Zero ITA Airways Flights

Milan Malpensa Airport has successfully reinvented itself over the years. It was originally thought and built to become a primary hub, or at the least on par with Rome Fiumicino, for Alitalia. However the landscape and priorities of Italian aviation shifted significantly as time went by. Influenced by external investors, such as Etihad, Alitalia decided to focus entirely on Rome Fiumicino Airport.

This led to a gradual withdrawal from the Malpensa hub. In the new era of ITA Airways, the company has opted to further move operations to Rome, centralising all long-haul operations at FCO, designating Milan Linate as a secondary hub for intra-European flights.

In early 2024, ITA Airways completely abandoned Malpensa, discontinuing its last active route from the airport, a Milan to New York JFK flight, due to cost inefficiencies and low performance.

Runway Specifications at Milan Malpensa

RunwayLength (m)Orientation

Milan Malpensa Airport operates two main runway system. The runways are both almost 4km long and have a separation which allows simultaneous operations for take-offs and landings. Their size makes them also capable of accommodating even the largest passenger and cargo planes. Both runways have a 170/350 orientation and are identified as 17L/35R and 17R/35L. In simpler terms they accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A380, used by Emirates, and the Boeing 747 used by many cargo operators. MXP is in fact a major export hub for Italian made perishable goods.

Which Terminal Do Airlines Use?

Aegean Airlines1
Aer Lingus1
Aigle Azur1
Air Albania1
Air Algérie1
Air Cairo1
Air Canada1
Air Dolomiti1
Air Europa1
Air France1
Air Horizont1
Air India1
Air Malta1
Air Moldova1
Air Nostrum1
Air Serbia1
American Airlines1
ASL Airlines1
Austrian Airlines1
Azerbaijan Airlines1
Azul Linhas Aéreas1
BA Cityflyer1
Blue Air1
Blue Panorama Airlines1
BMI Regional1
British Airways1
Brussels Airlines1
Bulgaria Air1
Cabo Verde Airlines1
Cathay Pacific1
China Eastern Airlines1
Czech Airlines1
Cygnus Air1
Cyprus Airways1
Delta Air Lines1
Eastern Airways1
El Al1
Ethiopian Airlines1
Etihad Airways1
EVA Air1
Freebird Airlines1
Garuda Indonesia1
Gol Linhas Aéreas1
Gulf Air1
Hainan Airlines1
Iran Air1
ITA Airways1
Korean Air1
Kuwait Airways1
La Compagnie1
LOT Polish Airlines1
Mahan Air1
Middle East Airlines1
Mistral Air1
Montenegro Airlines1
Nesma Airlines1
Norwegian Air Shuttle1
Pakistan International Airlines1
Pegasus Airlines1
Qatar Airways1
Royal Air Maroc1
Scandinavian Airlines1
Singapore Airlines1
Southern Air1
Swiss International Air Lines1
TAP Air Portugal1
Tayaran Jet1
Thai Airways1
Titan Airways1
Trade Air1
Turkish Airlines1

The terminals at Malpensa accommodate airlines from around the world. Terminal 1 is home to full service carriers such as British Airways and Lufthansa. Both international and domestic flights depart from this terminal however most flights fly outside of Italy.

Terminal 2 on the other hand is almost exclusively low cost carrier territory. T2 serves as the home of giants of low cost travel EasyJet and Ryanair.

The airport also features a train station which connects it to the city of Milan, with a 30 to 35 minute ride time. To find out all the transfer options between airport and city check out this post.

Aerial view of Milan Malpensa Airport runways with dramatic storm clouds overhead, showcasing the airport's infrastructure against the backdrop of the Italian Alps.

The Lounges of MXP

Milan Malpensa Airport offers a number of lounges to its travellers. Some good some less. The airport’s lounges include:

  • Sala Montale – Terminal 1 – For passengers travelling outside of the Schengen Area
  • Sala Monteverdi – Terminal 1 – For passengers travelling within the Schengen Area

In addition, the airport has lounges owned by Emirates and Lufthansa. MXP is a key airport for both these airlines. Emirates operates flights to both Dubai and New York from here and sees large numbers of business travellers on the route. Lufthansa on the other hand mainly feeds business travellers from and to its Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich hubs.

Access to the Lufthansa lounge requires either a:

  • Business class ticket
  • Frequent flyer status with Lufthansa or Star Alliance
  • A qualifying credit card.

Similarly, the Emirates lounge is accessible to passengers with:

  • Business or first-class tickets
  • Skywards Gold status or higher

The Emirates lounge, located directly above the departure gate, offers a unique and exclusive boarding experience for premium passengers.

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