«Someone help us or we'll go haywire too»- Corriere.it

«Someone help us or we'll go haywire too»- Corriere.it

Planes at the parking apron of Palermo airport

We're doing our best to lend a hand in Catania, but it's summer, but we're already overcrowded and if they don't lend us a hand here, the other main airport in Sicily will also collapse. Vito Riggio, managing director of Gesap - the company that manages the Falcone and Borsellino airport in the regional capital - cannot be clearer than this: We do not have enough staff to manage 8-9 thousand more people than expected, many are those who were destined for Catania, he recounts during a chat with the Courier. This is why it threatens to block reception at the weekend, the peak period. This irritated the President of the Region Renato Schifani and prompted the National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) to reclaim its role of authority in determining the capacity of Sicilian airports to support Catania's operations.

How are these days going?
Palermo airport is holding up well to the increase in flights due to the blockade of Catania's activities, but we are already far beyond the capacity limit.

How many flights are diverted from Catania to Palermo?
We are registering 40-45 more flights per day, something like 8,000 travelers in addition to the ones we are having structurally. And that's going to get us in a lot of trouble over the weekend if we don't take action.

Not only because everything has already been programmed, in terms of hourly movements and the flow of people. But also because Palermo is registering much higher traffic even than in the summer of 2019.

What are the estimates?
On Friday 21 July, to give you an example, we expect 40,000 people. These are numbers that we have never recorded in the history of the airport. Our average is 30-31 thousand a day, maximum 32 thousand in the summer. In recent days we are on the 38-39 thousand.

What are you afraid of for the weekend?
With these numbers, we will exceed any limit. We can't continue like this or skip the Palermo airport and Sicily can't afford it.

What is the main problem?
that relating to ground service personnel, the so-called handling, from check-in to baggage handling. From Catania they sent us 6 people, but by no means enough. We need extraordinary solutions.

For example?
They should bring part of the Catania handling here to us, temporarily, to give us a hand. Comiso and Trapani are making it, but they are also smaller airports. If Palermo skips we're in trouble.

Why is handling in difficulty?
The personnel and their rosters here, as elsewhere, have been scheduled on the basis of the season and a forecast of numbers. If even one more plane arrives, the calculations skip. Already last weekend we were close to the limit and Catania hadn't had any problems yet.

Thursday there was also the plane that brought Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for the anniversary of the Via D'Amelio massacre.
And think about the airport under such stress these days for the Catania flights that even the Prime Minister had to wait several minutes for the ladder to get off the aircraft because we were using it elsewhere.

Is there room to accommodate the additional planes?
For now, the aprons are holding up, but if there are delays and the aircraft all arrive at the same time, it's a problem, we wouldn't know where to put them.

The airport by the way not even all available.
Yes, we also have the problem of renovating a part of the airport and therefore spaces are limited. This poses the problem of physical capacity. As if that weren't enough there was also some really pirate company.

In what sense?
There have been carriers that have landed here, on the Palermo runway, without even having the authorisation. They just showed up, of course we couldn't send them elsewhere. But does it seem normal?

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