Italians Look to Kill Rome’s Ciampino Airport, Help Alitalia

Yes, this is a post about Italy, but believe it or not, Alitalia isn’t the main focus. It’s the bungling Italian government that has caught my eye once again for their plans to help Alitalia and kick low cost carriers to the far corners of the Rome metro area. If your flag carrier can’t win through competition, might as well play dirty and help them out, right? Sheesh.

I don’t speak Italian, so my understanding of the situation relies on Google Translate and a Ryanair press release. Here’s what seems to be happening.

Noise has been a sensitive issue for those living around Ciampino airport, a mere 10 miles from central Rome. The airport had been growing with Ryanair and EasyJet having substantial operations along with smaller operations from Wizz and, apparently, an airline called Romavia (which still flies a 707?!). Alitalia and pretty much everyone else fly from Leonardo da Vinci Airport at Fiumicino, about 25 miles from the city center.

The region’s government decided to turn Viterbo, an old military base about 60 miles north of the city into the third airport for the area. Just to get an idea for how far out this place is, take a look at this map:

If they want a third airport, that’s there own business, but now all the noise complaints caused them to run a study. According to Ryanair, the results prove that there isn’t a huge noise issue, but the region’s government is still looking to shrink or shut the airport anyway. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Raise your hand if you know who would get the biggest benefit by having Ryanair and EasyJet move to the far away Viterbo airport. That’s right, it’s our good friends at Alitalia.

If anyone knows more about this story AND speaks English, hit the comments. By the way, if you just want to complain about the noise around the airport, don’t bother. That airport is one of the oldest in the world – it’s been there since 1916 – so you knew what was there when you moved in.

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34 Comments on "Italians Look to Kill Rome’s Ciampino Airport, Help Alitalia"

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David
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Fiumicino is not *that* far away from Rome. It does after all have a regular express train service to/from Rome Termini station. To reach Ciampino from the city centre requires one of 3 options: 1) Take the coach from the city centre – plenty available 2) Take the subway to an edge-of-twon metro station, and then catch an onwards bus 3) Take a train to Ciampino (town) station. While the airport is almost adjacent, the terminal is on the other side of the runway, so you either have a long walk, or you have to catch a bus or taxi.… Read more »
David
Guest

I know Fiumicino has higher fees, but easyjet, Air Berlin, Blue Air, Clickair, FlyGlobespan, GermanWings, Jet2, MyAir, Meridiana, Niki, SkyEurope, Transavia, TUIfly, Vueling, WindJet and Wizzair already have operations at Fiumicino now.

Sure MOL would make a lot of fuss and noise, but is it possible the other LCCs would choose the higher fees at Fiumicino over somewhere remote like Viterbo, at least until the new train link at Viterbo is opened ?

David
Guest
I know that Ryanair would be very against setting up at Fiumicino, but I’m never sure quite how much of it is just bluster. They’ve already opened up a base at Madrid Barajas as a spoiler against Easyjet, and airport fees at London Stansted are pretty high for what is supposedly a LCC airport. Then again, if they can find a coach company to set up a shuttle service from Viterbo to central Rome…. Easyjet on the other hand have made their largest base at London Gatwick, moving some routes from the relatively lower cost Luton and Stansted. Their main… Read more »
Ari
Guest

Apparently Ciampino is slot constrained due to a 2007 noise constraint that reduced capacity by 30%. Ryanair has already filed for 10 more slots at Fiumicino, so it might be tough for them to resist being moved. It looks like NIMBYism is more at play here than Alitalia and their protectors in the national government.

Ari
Guest

Another opinion cites regional governor offering CAI this deal in order to keep it at Fiumicino. This fits with Alitalia’s earlier threat to pull the hub from Rome. So you may be right. If this goes through it will likely mean litigation from the European Commission.

The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
Naive question: Is it possible the Italian government are simply following the model of HKG and BER by closing old, outdated airports (that also happen to be operationally restricted and noisy) and building or developing larger fields elsewhere? PVG and the new HKG are convenient despite being in the boonies thanks to maglev and other hi-speed rail connections. If a similar line is going in at Viterbo, who cares how far away it is as long as I can get downtown in less than an hour? And they can market the joint as being that much closer to Assisi, San… Read more »
Steven Frischling
Guest
“Optimist” HKG is not really in the boonies. While it is no where near as central to HKG as its previous location (pretty much in the middle the city) it is not 60 miles from HKG Central. A cab ride from Central to HKG is 20 min. While cab drivers in Rome drive like lunatics, there is no way you’d get from Rome to the new airport in 20min. The Italian government has no need to make a major airport 60 miles out, they have FCO at roughly 25miles out. FCO, while riddled with its own problems, is a viable… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist
Steven – What cabbie did you take and would you recommend him the next time I’m there? :-) I’ve taken the Airport Express (love it) and that’s 24-30 minutes to Central itself. The distance is relative in any case to the ground transportation available (see Narita). Prior to the Paddington Express LHR, only 11 miles out, was a nightmare to drive, cab or Tube in to the city. That, to me, means that until the rail link is running, Viterbo will indeed be a chore and pain to access. After that, 25 miles or 60 miles won’t matter if it… Read more »
baproden
Member

I believe the 707 is used for the GOVT only. I have no idea about the 111’s but it would be interesting to know if they are still around.

Sean Ward
Guest

I work in the air industry and can confirm that closing Ciampino is
a typical italian dirty game. Immagine that in Ciampino executive jet and
the really noisy Piaggio avanti do take off and land in the middle of the night.
Those aircraft despite lighter than a Ryanair B738 do produce about 3 times
noise of modern airliners. Italy is mafia-land and politicians do what they like.
Not taking care of loss of general turism revenue produced by low-cost airline
they will close Ciampino. Sometimes i think there is more justice in places like Nigeria than in a eu nation like italy.

giulia
Guest
have you ever been in ciampino? it’s a small, old airport with no train/metro connection to the center of rome, and even by car it’s a pain because road is 1 line always packed with cars (could take more than 1 hour drive from the center of rome). also it’s true that there are many residential buildings around the airport. if you land late in the evening, there is the risk that no bus is there to pick you up and even taxi could be difficult to find. the new airport in viterbo will have a 45 minutes train to… Read more »
Sean
Guest
I agree with Guila, having also flown in and out of Ciampino via Ryanair. She wrote: “have you ever been in ciampino? it’s a small, old airport with no train/metro connection to the center of rome, and even by car it’s a pain because road is 1 line always packed with cars (could take more than 1 hour drive from the center of rome).” Pure distance isn’t what matters as much as a convenient rail link. Too bad Rome can’t copy Vienna’s move and have the super-convenient CAT train. A roughly 20-minute ride downtown, and you can can checkin for… Read more »
Kristen
Guest

Does anyone else think the proximity of Viterbo to Civitavecchia (cruise ship terminal) to be an advantage? Perhaps the LCC’s will benefit?

Ari
Guest

@giulia, what until the rail connection opens? moreover, if people fly there, they clearly like it or don’t have better options at this time. why kill tourism to save the airline?

the rail looks like it’s a 250 milion euro investment to get it going. you could legally make the case for moving everyone to the same facility – Fiumicino – and then offer other airports as alternatives, but I’m afraid the game is dirtier than that.

David
Guest
As far as I’m aware, almost all of the traffic at Ciampino is on LCCs rather than full-service network airlines. Maybe I’m just being cheap… but if I’m flying on a LCC into an airport, I really don’t want to spend a lot of money travelling between the airport and the city. Sure some high-speed express train might be more comfortable, but if spending 15 mins longer saves the equivalent of US$10, I’d rather save the money. There are plenty of direct coaches between Termini and Ciampino. Alternatively get a train from Termini to Ciampino town, and catch the bus… Read more »
The Traveling Optimist
Guest
The Traveling Optimist

Kristen – Viterbo might be more convenient for those cruises that originate out of Rome/Civitavecchia but that traffic isn’t large enough to make too many bones about. They could get some incremental business, though from people who missed the sailing and need to catch up to the ship.

I thought of a Med Cruise for a vacation once until my aunt and uncle came back telling me about the $6000 they spent on shore excursions over the length of the cruise. Nine hours of shore time in the Eternal City is a complete joke to me.

Simon
Guest

Fleet info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romavia#Fleet
confirms your suspicions.

Cranky, I do not disagree with your conclusions about the business but they betray a certain American (and perhaps SoCal in particular ) chauvinism towards distance and perceived driving time over rail transit times.

Conversely, I’m in DC right now and consider BWI “closer” than IAD.

Bel
Guest

Hi there, can anyone tell me the distance between Ciampino & Fiumicino airports? (in time)
I am flying into Fiumicino but then have to transfer to Ciampino to take a Ryan Air flight to Madrid.

Any advice on the best way to do this would also be fantastic! :)

Simon
Guest

Cranky, it sounds like you’re already concnious of the point I was trying to make and my example was poor, You can put that down to my NorCal chauvinism about SoCalers.I got the impression from some of our Italian commentators that there was a rail link.

Bel
Guest

CF – thank you very much for the link I will take a look at it today :)

Lisa
Guest
Hello to all those who have left comments. I know that most of the comments here are old but I felt the need to write and explain what is really happening at Ciampino airport. I cannot believe that once again Ryanair is manipulating the facts to gain public support. Wanting to close down Ciampino has absolutely NOTHING to do with Alitalia and is something which we, the residents of the areas around Ciampino have been battling for many years. Yes, you are right, the airport of Ciampino was built in 1916 but solely for military purposes which meant occasional and… Read more »
James Quinlan
Guest
Roma Viterbo will be Rome’s third airport like Stansted is ours. Cimapino is overcrowded and so constrained by existing development it has reached capacity. The Italian government made the decision to develope Viterbo in 2007 and it will be fully operational by 2010 (imagine a new airport in UK taking 3 years! With the whineing Nimbys it takes 25 years!). The good thing about Viterbo is that it is superbly accessible by trains with the relatively underused suburban routes from Roma (two routes) and to the high speed network at Orte and the main cruise port at Civitivecchia being within… Read more »
Sandra
Guest
I live in S. Maria delle Mole and moved here in 1982 when there was no Ryanair and so-called low-cost flights. We moved here from the city for peace and quiet. Yes, the airport was built in 1916, primarily as a military airport. What type of planes were flying then!!! Not Ryanair that is for sure! Our whole lives have been ruined by Ryanair. First flight at 6.30 am and last, if it is not delayed, at 11.45, 7 days a week. We live in a 2-storey house and it is as if Ryanair is flying into our bedrooms. We… Read more »
Sandra
Guest

I would just like to add that the low-cost flights in/out Ciampino have increased by 700% (yes 700%) since 2001!!!!

James Quinlan
Guest

Actually Viterbo is not so much of a problem from Roma as it is on busy suburban rail route; it is actually easier than Ciampino. The real problem for Ciampino is that is prime real estate and the Roma authorities see it a development site.

James Quinlan
Guest

@ Sandra:

Sandra I have flown out Ciampino on Easyjet gazing down at the housing surrounding the airport and have thought how badly located the airport is. (I am a urban planner by profession).

Now easyjet fly to Fiumicino I much prefer that route because of the Leonardo express goes straight to Terminii where I can pick up train to Orvieto where I have a house.

www.city-airport-taxis.com
Guest

Viterbo will be the best place for the next airport in Rome. Its really a very good suburban area connected with rail, road. Ryanair and EasyJet are really excellent flights what we dont want to miss. And If the administrative persons like to move the flight at Viterbo, I think that will be the good decision.

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