Milan Malpensa airport officially named after Silvio Berlusconi

Milan Malpensa airport officially named after Silvio Berlusconi

The Milan Malpensa airport has been officially renamed after former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a divisive figure in the country's history.

The airport's full name is now International Airport Milan Malpensa — Silvio Berlusconi, effective immediately, a statement released by the Italian Ministry of Transport said on Thursday.

Critics of the move blasted the decision to honour the late populist mainstay politician, who passed away last June at the age of 86. According to Italian law, a public place — be it a street, a square, or an airport — cannot be named after a person sooner than 10 years after their death.

The Democratic Party presented a petition to the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Matteo Salvini to "clarify which procedure was followed for the naming of Malpensa airport after Silvio Berlusconi and what are the reasons why the procedure provided for by law ... was not respected."

Salvini, the leader of the far-right Lega party and one of Berlusconi's political allies, announced the decision on Tuesday, saying that officials from the Lombardy region — where the airport is based — requested the change around a year ago, which was accepted by the board of directors of the country’s National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) last week.

He confirmed the decision on Thursday, posting on X that the move was "a great pleasure (in honour of) a great Italian".

The 5 Star Movement also deplored the decision, calling Italy a "banana republic".

"(It's) a republic where if you defraud the tax authorities and are definitely convicted, once you have passed away, they will even name an international airport after you," the party said in a statement.