Tuesday, May 27, 2008



“Leonardo da Vinci International Airport” - IATA code: FCO - better known as Fiumicino Airport is the major airfield, of the three, which the city of Rome harbors. The other two are: G.B. Pastine Airport, better known as Ciampino (CIA, south-east of the capital). CIA its mostly used for charter, executive flights and military flights, Urbe (north of Rome) where the Rome’s Aero-club, with its flying school, and the National Civil Air Defense, are based. By the end of this coming December, it will converted into a heliport, with flights to FCO and CIA. Ticket prices should range between 70 and 100 Euros.

Since Ciampino, inaugurated in 1916, was getting too small to handle international and intercontinental flights, the construction of a new airport was decided in the 50’s, and was inaugurated, quite unusually, twice. The first time, in 1956, with only one runway, more or less operational, and no air terminal yet built. A formal ceremony was held, due to the political and strategic designs of the period. Practically, just to show that the works were just about completed for the 1960’s Olympic games opening in Rome. It took another four years – August 20th, 1960 – before the airport would be officially and solemnly inaugurated, by then minister of Public Works, Honorable Togni, and thus become fully operational. Five days after, the Olympic Games began. Interesting note: the first airline to land, in the newly born airport, was TWA, with a Constellation inbound from New York.

Due to the increase of international traffic, the two runways were extended (1970 – 1972) and the air terminal was divided into two levels. An arrival section, located on the ground floor of the air terminal, and a departures section, located on the first floor.

In 1974, due to some turmoil created by the over fifty handling agencies, operating the airport, the government decided to bring all of them together under the name of AdR (Aereoporti di Roma SpA). Taking, thus, over: cargo, passengers services, catering, baggage handling, cleaners, bars, restaurants and other airport related agencies.

From those years up to the present times, FCO grew considerably. Many new sections were added such as the Terminal 5 (inaugurated on April 24th, 2008, which accommodates all American airlines outbound for the USA, such as: Delta, American, Continental, United, AA and US Airways.

The main terminal consists of: Terminal A: Domestic Flights – Terminal B: Domestic and International Schengen Flights (Schengen Treaty – abolition of boarders control, within the European Common Market), Terminal C: International Flights (extra – Schengen) and, the above mentioned Terminal 5 – or T5 – serviced by shuttles, from and to, the mail terminal.

Shops, restaurants, pharmacy and post offices can be found all throughout the terminals, as well as other facilities such as: porters, lost and found baggage, lost properties and, if you have a few hours to roam around (FCO stands about 32 Km from the city center), you can leave your bags at the Left Luggage Dept. at Terminal C - ground floor.

FCO’s next future, foresees a further expansion of terminal C - the works, beginning this fall, should end within the year 2011 - which will be capable to withstand an approximate 50 million passengers (against the 30 million at the present time); but not more since the location does not, physically allow it. It will develope on an area of 4,000 square meters, with a new dock composed of glass and steel tunnels, 24 new boarding gates - 16 of which will be made of steel, with large windows looking onto the runways and, also, a large commercial area will be added to the compound.

Another big project, worth to mention - within the year 2020 - regarding the Lazio region’s airports, will be the construction of a brand new airport near Viterbo, which will take a huge amount of load off Ciampino. It will be able to handle between six and eight millions passengers, inheriting part of the domestic and, low cost flights. Besides, the growth of the manpower demand (jobs!), as well as new facilities, like: hotels, restaurants, and other business pertaining to the general operation of an airport.

As you can see, the Lazio airports - FCO in the first place - will be competing with the main European airports, such as London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schipol regarding size, passengers load and facilities. Its getting to be a small world…

See ya in Roma!!