Multiciliated cells (MCC) contain hundreds of motile cilia used to propel fluid over their surface. To template these cilia, each MCC produces between 100-600 centrioles by a process termed centriole amplification. Yet, how MCC regulate the precise number of centrioles and cilia remains unknown. Airway progenitor cells contain two parental centrioles (PC) and form structures called deuterosomes that nucleate centrioles during amplification. Using an ex vivo airway culture model, we show that ablation of PC does not perturb deuterosome formation and centriole amplification. In contrast, loss of PC caused an increase in deuterosome and centriole abundance, highlighting the presence of a compensatory mechanism. Quantification of centriole abundance in vitro and in vivo identified a linear relationship between surface area and centriole number. By manipulating cell size, we discovered that centriole number scales with surface area. Our results demonstrate that a cell-intrinsic surface area-dependent mechanism controls centriole and cilia abundance in multiciliated cells.