The flames near Palermo airport
A faulty air conditioner and a nearby landfill on fire shut down Sicily's two main airports — one for over a week, the other for a few hours — and effectively further isolate the island. And precisely in the peak period of tourist flows and the return to their homeland of tens of thousands of people.
How important are the airports of Catania and Palermo?
According to data provided by Assaeroporti - the main association that brings together almost all the Italian airports - in the first five months of this year 6.8 million people passed through the two Sicilian plants, equal to 9.7% of the total national flows of the period: one passenger out of ten in Italy, in short, passed through Catania and Palermo. If we only consider those who fly to/from the island, then 93% of the total volumes pass through the two plants.
What happened in Catania?
On the late evening of 16 July - a Sunday - the air conditioning system in one of the car rental booths located just before the exit from Terminal A of the airport caught fire. The airport has been closed.
And now what is the situation at Catania airport?
At the moment Terminal A — the most important one — remains closed until 1.59 on the night of 26 July, as confirmed by a Notam, the bulletin sent to sector operators. But not excluded that the stop will be further extended. In any case, up to 4 arrivals and as many departures are authorized every hour. Although smaller, Terminal C (usually used by easyJet flights) works, where the Civil Defense has installed an awning to welcome more people and shelter them from the sun and heat of these days.
How many flights are there to Catania?
About half. All the others have either been canceled or diverted to other airports in Sicily and Calabria.
Inside the Catania airport after the flames
What should a traveler who lands in Catania do?
The management company of the airport reminds those arriving in Catania to collect their baggage as soon as they get off the plane, alongside. This is because at the moment the baggage delivery service is suspended due to the temporary closure of Terminal A and the unavailability of the belts.
Which airports welcome early flights to Catania?
They are Comiso (managed by the Catania company), Palermo, Trapani, Lamezia Terme and Reggio Calabria.
And how do you get to the alternative airports?
Several people are renting cars to get there faster. The Sicilian Region and Sac, the management company of the Catania airport, have made dozens of buses available between the city of Etna and the airports where flights have been diverted. In any case, it is good to inquire through the websites of the airlines and airports.
Why was Palermo airport temporarily closed?
In the night between Monday and Tuesday some small fires broke out near Palermo: some of the flames reached the perimeter of the airport. Notam A5342/23 decided to stop flights from 3.24 on the night of 25 July until 10 in the morning of the same day. At that point it was decided to stop operations.
How many flights were canceled in Palermo?
According to the specialized platforms, 31 flights are cancelled: 11 arriving and 20 departing. It should be remembered that these days Palermo is also managing between 20 and 40 movements originally foreseen in Catania.
Is Palermo airport in danger of collapsing due to the stop in Catania?
The top management of the Falcone and Borsellino airports have denounced in recent days the impossibility of proceeding at these paces: the summer peak, the record flows and the addition of the scheduled flights to Catania have almost brought the airport of the Sicilian capital to collapse. For this reason, help was requested, especially in terms of ground personnel, to manage 40,000 people in transit per day.
How is the situation in the other two Sicilian airports?
For now, the operations in Trapani and Comiso are proceeding without particular problems. But they are also small airports that would not be able to handle the flows diverted from Catania or Palermo for long. To get an idea: in the first five months, according to Assaeroporti, Comiso had 101,000 passengers (between departures and arrivals), Trapani 392,000.
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The Economy Opinions and the Economy 6 pm
Jul 25, 2023
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